Recap of Season 1, Episode 8: “The Pointy End”

Sansa septa 108

Arya is taking her “dancing lessons” with Syrio Forel, unaware that elsewhere in King’s Landing her father has just been taken prisoner and Lannister soldiers are killing all remaining men loyal to the Starks. Her sister is walking with her Septa, discussing that Arya is late – they are supposed to leave today (oh if only they’d left yesterday!) – when they hear noises and realize something is terribly wrong. Septa sends Sansa back to her room, then stands in the hallway to distract the men and give Sansa time to get away.

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Lannister men come to take Arya, but Syrio will not let that happen. He is suspicious that Lord Stark didn’t send his own men to come get his daughter. Pretty clever there, Syrio! When the men move to grab her, Syrio steps into action. Though armed only with a wooden practice sword, he takes on the red cloaks. Arya wants to stay and stand and fight with him, but he convinces her to go. He has dispatched all but one of the men before Arya finally leaves. Syrio’s sword was cut in half and he has one man left to fight, Ser Trent of the Kingsguard. We hear the clanging of swords and screams, but don’t see what happened.

The Hound 108

Sansa is running back to her room for safety and comes face to face with the Hound. She is startled and scared, and tells him to stay away or she’ll tell the queen. He just chuckles. “Who do you think sent me?”

arya 108

Arya runs outside and sees total chaos – dead bodies strewn around the square. She is at the stables where they were supposed to meet to take the carriage back to Winterfell. If only. She finds her bag and her sword, just as one of the stableboys comes out and threatens to take her to the queen. She moves suddenly to stop him and stabs him by accident, killing him.

varys-ned

Varys shows up in the dungeon where Ned is being held. He brings Ned water and tells him to hide it. He tells Ned that Arya has escaped the castle (“even my little birds can’t find her”) and Sansa is still engaged to Joffrey. Cersei will protect her. Unless you consider that marrying Joffrey would be its own special hell. All the rest of the Stark household that had come to King’s Landing, all dead.

ned 108

Ned is angry with Varys. “You watched my men being slaughtered and did nothing.” But Varys is pragmatic. “I would again, my lord. I was unarmed, unarmored and surrounded by Lannister swords. When you look at me, do you see a hero?” Varys asks the question that we all would like to ask Ned at this point: “What madness led you to tell the queen you had learned the truth about Joffrey’s birth?”

Ned’s answer, “the madness of mercy,” is so naive and stupidly noble it’s painful to hear. Varys noticeably winces, then tells Ned it was his mercy that cost King Robert his life. Varys tells Ned that he’s a dead man. Ned thought he had protection, that Catelyn still held leverage in the form of Tyrion Lannister. But Varys knows that Tyrion is no longer her captive. Ned knows what that means and asks Varys to take his life right then. But Varys says what Arya told the god of death, “Not today.”

Sam Jeor Jon 108

At the Wall, two men from the Night’s Watch have been found, dead (one missing the hand Ghost found earlier). They were rangers patrolling with Benjen Stark, who has still not been located. Sam notices something strange about the dead bodies – they don’t smell, despite the fact that it looks as if the men have been dead for a while. Jon suggests they burn the bodies, like the wildlings do. But Lord Commander Jeor Mormont wants to have Maester Aemon examine them first. What Sam noticed has raised some suspicions, in fact, Mormont compliments him for his smarts.

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Jon is summoned by Mormont. A raven was sent to Castle Black from King’s Landing with news. The king is dead. His father is charged with treason, for conspiring with Robert’s brothers to deny Joffrey the throne. Jon reads the letter and storms out, but before he leaves Mormont warns him. He is a member of the Night’s Watch now and he has sworn an oath. If he leaves he will be captured and executed as a deserter. His duty is at the Wall, not with his father or his sisters.

sansa 108

No matter what you thought of Sansa before this moment, you have to feel sorry for her. She is surrounded by people who look upon her as a piece in a game to move at their will. She is alone, there is no one there she can confide in or ask for help. Queen Cersei and members of the small council are telling her awful things, confusing things. Her father is a traitor who, while Robert was still warm, conspired to deny his son the prince, her future husband, his rightful place on the throne. Sansa knows one thing about her father, he is a good man and a true friend of the King. None of this makes sense.

Cersei 108

Cersei asks how she could possibly allow Sansa, the daughter of a traitor, to marry her son. This is all Sansa wants. She promises that she’ll be a queen like Cersei some day (which should make Cersei very scared). Pycelle is ready to throw her to the wolves, but Littlefinger has an idea. She’s a sweet, innocent. Perhaps if she can prove her loyalty to Joffrey…. So Cersei gives her instructions. Write a letter to her mother and her brother asking her brother to come to King’s Landing and pledge his fealty to King Joffrey. Sansa writes the letter believing it’s the only chance to save her father.

Robb 108

R-mail gets to Robb quickly, demanding he come to King’s Landing and swear his allegiance to the new king. Maester Luwin quickly recognizes that while Sansa wrote the letter, it was Cersei’s words. Robb seems to understand what is being demanded, “Joffrey puts my father in chains, now he wants his ass kissed?” Yes, that’s it precisely. Luwin explains that Robb cannot refuse a royal command, but Robb has every intention of going to King’s Landing. But not alone. He tells Luwin to call the banners, all the houses loyal to the Starks, including Umber, Mormont, Karstark, Bolton and Cerwyn.

Catelyn 108

Catelyn was still up at the Eyrie with her sister Lysa when she finally gets word about Ned. By the time Catelyn learns what’s happened Ned is a prisoner and Robb is about to declare war. Her sister is no help at all, she will not send any soldiers from the Vale. They will stay put to defend the Vale. She is scared to death of the Lannisters. They’ve already killed her husband. She knows they would do anything. Catelyn is on her own.

Tyrion bronn 108 the pointy end

This has been one heavy episode, so it’s time for a nice traveling/buddy comedy interlude with that madcap duo, Tyrion and Bronn. They’re on the mountain pass from the Eyrie, on their way home, and Tyrion is whistling a happy tune, which greatly irritates Bronn. He would like them to be a little quieter as there are hill tribes in the area. The entire conversation is priceless (though with money being no object to the Lannisters, perhaps a value could be agreed upon). They establish the relationship perfectly, Tyrion has bought himself what he lacks, the ability to kill. While this is a purely business arrangement, Tyrion lets on that he is quite willing to expand the relationship into the friend zone.

shagga 108

The next morning, they are discovered by members of the hill tribes that Bronn had warned about the day before. Many extremely large men are surrounding their makeshift campsite and, despite Bronn’s prowess with a sword, and Tyrion’s quick mind, it looks like the two will be breakfast for these strange mountain men. Tyrion uses his humor in an attempt to diffuse the situation and Shagga, the leader of the Stone Crows, is impressed enough to agree to spare Tyrion – so he can entertain the children (one would assume Tyrion might prefer death to that option). Bronn is still dead meat, until Tyrion shifts to his fall-back position. The great Lannister fortune.

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Tyrion tells Shagga, son of Dolf, that he is Tyrion, son of the richest man in all of the seven kingdoms and if his men help Tyrion get home, his father will shower them with gold. Shagga is unimpressed. But Tyrion presses on. He has the temerity to start insulting the Stone Crows. Their tactics, their weapons, their trouble fighting against the knights of the Vale. (Note how Bronn looks at Tyrion while he’s saying all this. He’s convinced Tyrion has lost his bloody mind.) Tyrion cannot buy his way out of this, Shagga tells him.

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Tyrion takes off a ring (my precious) and puts it right into Shagga’s face and tells him that it is worth more than everything the Stone Crows own. Still unimpressed, Shagga, son of Dolf? Then listen carefully. If you help Tyrion and Bronn get home, Tyrion will give you the Vale of Arryn. Not a trinket, not some gold, the whole freakin’ thing. Deal or no deal?

alliser jon 108

Can things get any worse for Jon Snow? His father is a prisoner and accused of treason, he’s stuck in the frigid north away from his family, he’ll die a virgin, and now Master-at-Arms Alliser Thorne wants to taunt the poor boy. Not just a bastard, but a traitor’s bastard. Real clever, Alliser. Jon wants to put a knife in that smug face, but his friends stop him just in time. Alliser tells Jon, “you’ll hang for this, bastard,” and storms off.

Jon 108 mormont

Lord Commander Mormont walks in; he saw what just happened. And he looks even more glum than usual. He reminds Jon that he told him not to do anything stupid (and for the record, attacking the Master-at-Arms may be the epitome of stupid). He is confined to quarters. That night, his direwolf, Ghost, is clawing at the door. What’s the matter, Ghost? What is it, girl? (Lassie reference, anyone??)

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Jon follows Ghost to Mormont’s room. He walks around; it’s dark and creepy. A door slams and a scary zombie dude is there. He attacks Jon and Jon tries fighting him – stabbing him, impaling him – but the guy won’t die. Mormont walks in carrying a lamp just in time to see the dead guy stand up again. It was one of the two dead rangers that had been brought in earlier in the day. Not so dead anymore. Jon grabs the lamp and hurls it at the reanimated dead man. And finally, he’s dead for good.

dany jorah village 108

Dany comes across the Dothraki raping and pillaging a recently-conquered village. She is horrified. For all their talk of not caring about money and not shedding blood in their city, they are pretty brutal. But this is all part of Khal Drogo’s march to the narrow sea, to conquer Westeros for her and their unborn son. Dany demands they stop and Jorah gives the command, but the Dothraki soldiers are incensed. It is their right to take the spoils of their victory they fought for.

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Dany instructs Jorah to bring all the women to her. Jorah tells her she can’t protect all the women, but Dany is woman, hear her roar – “I can and I will.” Not surprisingly, Drogo gets an earful from some of his men about his wife ruining all their fun. He asks his wife if what he’s heard is true. It’s a sitcom staple inserted into a tense scene as he calls her “my moon” and she calls him “my sun and stars” while they’re each digging in their heels. Dany tries to lawyer him, saying that she has claimed them all as daughters, so they cannot be “mounted.” She tells him, his men can have the women if they put a ring on it first. You know Drogo is thinking, exasperated, Women!

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Dany is taking crap from no one, and when the men disparage her suggestion that they marry the women with the throwaway line, “does the horse mate with the lamb?” she comes back with “the dragon feeds on horse and lamb alike.” Drogo likes feisty Dany, as he believes her spunk comes from his son growing in her womb. He tells Mogo and his other men to do as she says and leave the women alone.

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Mogo spits on Drogo and says any Khal who takes his orders from a foreigner is no Khal. He raises a arakh (a scythe-like sword) against Drogo and cuts him. He has unleashed hell and Drogo goes completely medieval on him, slicing his neck open and pulling out his tongue and throat with his bare hands.

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Khal sits back down and Dany runs over to him, concerned about his wound. He’s all macho bravado – that’s nothing, just the bite of a fly – but it’s a deep gaping hole. Dany asks for one of the healers to take care of him. One of the captured women, Mirri Maz Duur, says she is a healer and can help. Drogo’s men don’t want her helping, accusing her of being a witch, but Dany insists. Drogo reluctantly goes along, whatever the misses wants is okay with him.

robb feast 108

At Winterfell, there is a feast to welcome all the bannermen who have answered the call to take up arms against the king and to rescue Ned and his family from the Lannisters. Lord Umber says if he can’t lead the fight, he’ll take his men home, but Robb is not about to be told what to do. If Umber refuses, Robb will hunt him down, seize his land and hang him for an oathbreaker. Umber takes umbrage, goes for his weapon, and then Robb’s direwolf charges across the table and bites off a couple of his fingers.

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Robb could have taken Umber’s move as a treasonous attempt on his life, punishable by death. But he instead gives Umber an out. Everyone calms back down, albeit one of them now unable to make a two handed victory sign. Robb has passed his first test as a leader, he used both strength and fairness in handling Umber and all the bannermen are still in line.

Bran is asleep in his room when Robb wakes him to say goodbye. He’s going south to save Ned. Bran wants to come with him, it’s so cute how he reminds Robb that he can ride now, but Robb says no. “There must always be a Stark at Winterfell.” Bran will be that person until Robb returns. It’s a sweet moment, one of those “you’re the man of the house now” moments. Bran is left behind to run Winterfell with his little brother Rickon and Maester Luwin. Rickon comes in and Bran tries to comfort him, telling him Robb is going to save their father and their mother will be back too, but Rickon looks about to cry and tells him, “no they won’t.”

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Bran is outside near a weirwood tree in the godswood, praying to the old gods for his family, including Theon, when Osha the wildling captive comes up to him. She tells him the gods are listening to him and speaking to him. But she also tells him that the old gods won’t be any help to Robb where he’s going. There aren’t even any weirwood trees in the South anymore, they’ve all been cut down. Suddenly a naked Hodor shows up and Osha jokes that there must be some giant blood in him. She tells Bran that there are giants and “worse than giants” beyond the Wall, where she’s from. She tried telling Robb that there are greater dangers up north, beyond the Wall, than where he’s heading.

nights watch jon sam pyp 108

Speaking of north, the Night’s Watch is dealing with the aftermath of the dead rangers trying to kill Jon and Mormont. As Jon and his fellow crows stand around the fire used to make sure the dead stay dead, Sam says the men “were touched by white walkers.” Only fire will stop them, he says. How does Sam know this? He read it in a very old book in Maester Aemon’s library. The White Walkers for Dummies book also said they sleep beneath the ice for thousands of years and when they wake up…. Finish your thought, Sam! What do you mean, you hope the wall is high enough? It’s 700 feet high! Fun fact, those brought back to life by White Walkers are called Wights. And they can be people or animals.

catelyn rodrik robb

Lady Catelyn and Ser Rodrik Cassel are heading back from the Eyrie through an area called the Neck, riding past an abandoned castle, Moat Cailin, when they come across Robb’s army. Robb is in a tent, discussing war strategy with some of his men. Jaime Lannister is pushing back the armies of the Riverlands, Tywin Lannister has a separate even larger army coming up from the south. His mother and Rodrik come in and she’s cool, not embarrassing him in front of his friends with a big smooch and waits until they all leave.

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She’s so proud of her little boy, all grown up and ready to kick some Lannister ass. Well, not really. She’d love nothing more than for him to head back to Winterfell and leave the fighting to those who’ve done it before. But he won’t listen. He shows her the letter from Sansa (or, as she correctly notes, from the queen) and she notices that there’s no mention of Arya which worries her greatly. Neither of them thinks going to King’s Landing and bending the knee is the answer. Instead, Robb will have to defeat the Lannisters on the battlefield.

robb catelyn 108 discussing Tywin

Catelyn puts no pressure on Robb at all. She just casually mentions what Tywin Lannister did to the Targaryen children after the Mad King Aerys Targaryen was executed – they were all butchered in their sleep. Tywin is in control again, but possibly meaner than he was back then. But Catelyn’s not done with her pep talk. She tells Robb, if he loses, his father dies, his sisters die, we die. Robb looks for a moment like he’s going to throw up, then he smiles. “Well, that makes it simple then.” Not so fun fact, it was the Mountain (the one who pushed his brother’s face in the fire when they were kids) who actually carried out Tywin’s order to kill the Targaryen children.

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Tyrion and his merry band of killers meet up with Tywin and his branch of the Lannister army. Tyrion was hoping to have time alone with Daddy Dearest before he sprung Shagga and the rest on him, but Shagga is not the most trusting of fellows and wants to keep Tyrion close. The hill tribes make a curious sight at the encampment and Tywin is decidedly unimpressed and irritated (pretty much his default position). He lets Tyrion know that his army’s battle was not for him, but for the honor of the family name.

tywin 108

There’s a lot of, why couldn’t you be more like your brother Jaime, as well as updating Tyrion on the latest including the capture of Ned Stark. Tyrion does not take the news like Tywin expected. He’s not gleeful, more surprised, especially as he assumes that King Robert would never imprison his friend Ned. But then he finds out that Robert is dead and his nephew Joffrey now sits on the Iron Throne. That gets a reaction from Tyrion! His uncle Ser Kevan tells Tyrion about Robb’s army and their plan to move south.

tyrion shagga tywin bron 108

Good chance for Tyrion to segue into what he needs to pay back the debt he owes Shagga and his group. Before he can get them what they need, word comes in that Robb’s army has crossed the Neck (the southernmost part of the North, bordering the Riverlands) and is heading south. Tywin instructs his men to get an army together to attack and sends word to Jaime of his intentions. He then surveys the mountain men. He tells them he’s heard they are great warriors. If they ride with him against Robb’s army, they will have all that Tyrion promised them and more. Shagga agrees on one condition, “only if the half man fights with us.” Now it’s Tyrion’s turn to look like he’s about to hurl.

robbs army rodrik theon catelyn greatjon 108

Robb and his men are figuring out their battle plan. Their scouts tell them that Tywin and his men are moving north, and Rodrik thinks the approach is to get them while they’re out in the open. But Greatjon Umber thinks the better approach is to go after Jaime and his army at Riverrun, which will then get the River lords to join the Stark army. Either approach poses the same problem. To get over the river, they have to cross the Twins, a bridge controlled by the Freys. The Freys are bannermen of the Tullys (Catelyn’s family). As Catelyn tells it, Walder Frey is not the most reliable of bannermen; her father calls him “The Late Lord Frey” for his propensity of arriving just in time to reap the spoils of a war he didn’t fight. Catelyn cautions, “some men take their oaths more seriously than others.”

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The Stark men round up someone outside in the camp, while inside the tent discussions are continuing. There is no question that they need to cross the bridge, but what do they do? Go after Tywin or go after Jaime? The men bring in the Lannister scout they found sneaking around and he admits that he was there counting Robb’s army, and had already got to 20,000. Immediately, Umber wants his head, but Robb wants to be merciful. He tells the scout, “Tell Lord Tywin winter is coming for him.”

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In case we’ve forgotten, Ned is still in the dungeon.

cersei joffrey hound littlefinger varys pycelle

Back in the throne room, Joffrey is getting down to business. Step one, repay those loyal to you (and by definition, disloyal to Ned Stark). Janos Slynt, who promised Ned he and the City Watch were behind him, will now be Lord Janos and given Harrenhall as a reward. While this is going on, Sansa is passing by knights she knows as she makes her way before the King. Next announcement, Joffrey’s grandfather will take over as Hand of the King in the place of the “traitor” Ned Stark. That had to hurt Sansa to hear. Finally, Pycelle finishes up with an edict by the council that their King’s life and safety is of paramount importance.

barristan selmy 108

Cersei calls for Ser Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. He’s being given the chance to retire, with pay and benefits, so long as he steps down. But Barristan objects. The Kingsguard is a lifetime appointment, a brotherhood, and he can no more leave it than he can break an oath. But it has been decided, Jaime Lannister will replace him. Barristan strips off his armor and basically asks for Joffrey to kill him, saying he’ll die a knight. Littlefinger makes a quip to diffuse the situation, but Barristan draws his sword, a great warrior still wanting to show he is invincible. Then he throws his sword on the ground saying, to the King, “Here, boy, take it and melt in down and add it to the others.” Shockingly, he’s allowed to leave under his own power.

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Sansa comes before Joffrey and kneels. She’s begging for mercy for her father, but Maester Pycelle is no help at all, saying “treason is a noxious weed. It should be torn out….” But Joffrey interrupts and allows Sansa to finish. Littlefinger asks if she denies her father’s crime, and she says no, she knows he must be punished, but again asks for mercy. She blames what he did on the King’s brothers, maybe Renly or Stannis lied to him. Joffrey reminds her that he said he wasn’t the King, and Joffrey actually looks hurt and confused by that. Why would Ned Stark say such a thing, he asks. (Joffrey, maybe you should ask you mom/aunt or your uncle/dad instead.) Varys is enigmatic as ever, saying simply “a child’s faith…such sweet innocence.” Does he mean Sansa…or Joffrey? He goes on to add that wisdom often comes out of the mouths of babes. There’s no doubting where Pycelle’s allegiance lies. “Treason is treason,” he roars. Well, thanks for that segue into the law of identity.

joffrey 108

Sansa tries to reach whatever humanity might exist in Joffrey and asks once more, if he ever loved her, to please spare her father’s life. Joffrey says he is touched by her words, and Cersei seems pleased with his decision. Joffrey tells Sansa he will do that for her if her father proclaims that Joffrey is the rightful King. Sansa promises that he will.

Favorite quotes:

Arya: Come with me. Run!
Syrio: The first sword of Braavos does not run.

Syrio: What do we say to the god of death?
Arya: Not today.

Ned: Tell me something Varys. Who do you truly serve?
Varys: The realm, my lord. Someone must.

Tyrion: If I’m going to die, it may as well be with a song in my heart.

Bronn: I should just take your food and leave you here. Eh, what would you do then?
Tyrion: Starve, most likely.

Tyrion: What do you want, Bronn? Gold? Women? Golden women? Stick with me and you’ll have them all.

Bronn: Don’t go looking to me to bend the knee and “my lord” you every time you take a shit. I’m not your toady and I’m not your friend.
Tyrion: Though I would treasure your friendship, I’m mainly interested in your facility with murder.

Tyrion: If the day ever comes when you’re tempted to sell me out, remember this: whatever their price, I’ll beat it. I like living.

Shagga: How would you like to die, Tyrion, son of Tywin?
Tyrion: In my own bed, at the age of 80, with a belly full of wine and a girl’s mouth around my cock.

Mogo: First you have to kill me.
Drogo: I already have.

Greatjon Umber (to Robb): I’ll not sit here and swallow insults from a boy so green he pisses grass.

Osha: I tried telling your brother, he’s marching the wrong way. All these swords, they should be going north.

Shagga: If the half man betrays us, Shagga son of Dolf, will cut off his manhood…
Tyrion: …and feed it to the goats, yes.

Tywin (to Tyrion): The rumors of your demise were unfounded.
Tyrion: Sorry to disappoint you.

Tyrion (making introductions): And here we have Bronn, son of…
Bronn: …you wouldn’t know him.

Tyrion: We have our differences, Jaime and I. He’s braver. I’m better looking.

Tyrion (to Tywin, about Robb): The boy does have a certain belligerence. You’d like him.

Robb’s message to Tywin (given to the Lannister scout): 20,000 Northeners marching south to find out if he really does shit gold.

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Recap of Season 1, Episode 9: “Baelor”

the twins opening 109

A new location at the start, The Twins, where the bridge Robb needs to cross is located. Robb has 20,000 troops and he told the Lannister scout they captured last episode that he’s heading south to do battle with Tywin. But to get there, he needs permission from Walder Frey who controls The Twins.

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The episode opens and all you see is black.  It doesn’t take long to realize, we’re in the dungeon and this is all Ned Stark sees as well.  Then there is a light and a voice; Varys has come to visit with him again.  He tells Ned that Sansa came to court today to plead for his life.  Ned asks if Varys laughed with the others and Varys can honestly say that he did not.  Varys says that does not want Ned to die, and at least I believe him.  Ned is nonplussed, he has no idea what Varys wants.  Varys admits he could help Ned escape, but he won’t.  He’s no hero.  As to what he wants, Varys wants peace.

varys dungeon

Varys tells Ned that Robb is coming south to try and save him.  Meanwhile, the late King’s brother, and true heir, Lord Stannis, is marching to King’s Landing to take the throne.  This all adds up to war and Varys does not believe that is not good for Westeros.  Varys wants Ned to serve the realm and the only way he can do that is to confess his treason, tell Robb to withdraw his army and proclaim Joffrey the King.  Give the Lannisters what they want and they will let you live out your days serving the Night’s Watch.  You can serve alongside your brother and your bastard son, Varys tells him.

Oh, were that it was so simple.  But Ned doesn’t care about sparing his life, it means nothing to him.  His honor is worth more to him than taking another breath.  He’s a soldier, he says, and he “learned to die a long time ago.”  But Varys cuts through his armor: “What of your daughter’s life, my Lord? Is that a precious thing to you?”  He leaves and Ned has to ponder that question.

greatjon rodrik catelyn robb

Outside of The Twins, Robb’s men are shooting down ravens, worried that Lord Frey will send the Lannisters word of Robb’s movements.  He may be a bannerman for the Tullys, but they don’t trust Walder Frey.  But, they need to cross his bridge.  Theon tells Robb to march up and take it, they have the numbers.  But Greatjon says there isn’t time.  Catelyn tells them that for 600 years the Freys have held the bridge and exacted their toll for crossing it.  Robb plans to go into the castle and ask Frey for permission, but his men think that would be a suicide mission.

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His mother has an idea.  She’s known Frey since she was a girl and he would never harm her (Greatjon is dubious, but doesn’t get a vote).  She will go and ask for permission.  We meet Frey and he’s just a cuddly ole thing, isn’t he? Seriously, this guy is so creepily nasty Lord Voldemort would tell him he needs to chill.  He mentions to Catelyn that her father, Lord Tully has not shown up to his past three or four weddings (he’s had more marriages than all 17 seasons of the Bachelor), a slight that has not gone unnoticed (although at this point, how many more panini presses could he need). In fact, he’s well aware that her father looks down on the Freys – he wouldn’t even marry off any of their children to his (for this, Catelyn must be eternally grateful).

Catelyn presses on, after trying to deflect his criticism of her family.  She’s come to ask a favor – that he allow her son and his army to cross the bridge. Why should he? She tells him Robb has 20,000 men, but he just scoffs and says they’d be 20,000 corpses when Lord Tywin got there.  She tells him he pledged an oath to her father, he scoffs some more and says, “I said some words.” For all he cares, all these families can kill each other.  What’s in it for him?

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At Castle Black, Lord Commander Mormont has a present for his hero, Jon (who injured his hand when he threw the lamp at the wight and killed him last episode).  It’s called Longclaw, and its a longsword with a new pommel in the shape of a wolf.  It was Jeor’s fathers sword, made of Valyrian steel.  He has no son to give it to, now that Jorah (who’s off with Dany) has been exiled from the kingdom.  It’s poetic, the bastard son who inherits nothing getting something that was due another man’s son.  The Night’s Watch is his family now. Jon doesn’t have to worry about Alliser Thorne for a bit, adds Mormont.  He’s been sent down to King’s Landing with the wight’s hand – for a little “we have some serious shit going on up here” show and tell for the King.

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Everyone at the Castle heard about the surprise gift and they’re all congratulating Jon and his buddies all want to see it.  But Sam is sitting by himself and Jon can tell something is troubling him.  Spill it, Sam!  One of the perks of his job is he reads rmail sent to Maester Aemon.  He read about Robb’s army and he tells Jon everything he know.  Robb’s marching south, he has his bannermen’s support, and he’s heading for a war with the Lannisters.  Jon says he should be with his brother.

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Catelyn comes back from her meeting with Walder Frey.  Apparently all his gruffness and sneering was his bargaining pose.  He didn’t say no.  He’s going to let her have what she wants and more – Robb will get most of his army – but only if he gets what he wants, and he has a long list.  As Catelyn goes through the items, it gets worse and worse, until she answers the last of Robb’s “and?’s.”  Robb has to take one of his lovely daughters off his hands.  Robb is less than thrilled with the deal, but he is the leader and he has to do what must be done (Theon is not helping, by cracking up at this news).

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We see Robb’s men cross the bridge, some traveling along the water, some peeling off to the left.

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Jon has been summoned by Maester Aemon.  The Maester asks him if he knows why the men of the Night’s Watch take no wives and father no children. He says, it’s so that they will not love.  “Love is the death of duty.”  It’s pretty obvious to everyone that Sam told Aemon he’s worried that Jon will desert to go fight by his brother and Aemon is here to talk him out of it.  He asks Jon what he thinks his father, Lord  Stark, would do if he had to choose between honor and those he love.  Jon, who idolizes Ned, says his father would do whatever is right.  But Maester Aemon doubts this, “most men are not so strong.” Finally, he gets to the point.  Jon, you love your brother Robb and your father, and you probably want to run off and help them. But your duty is here at the Wall.

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Jon gets pretty PO’d.  He tells the old man, you don’t know anything about how I feel.  How many teenagers have had this exact exchange with some old person, convinced that whatever they are experiencing has never been experienced before?  And how many times does the old guy just happen to have a story that makes it clear we’re not that different?  So Maester Aemon tells Jon a story, how he had received his own raven not that many years ago, telling him that his family was killed, his house ruined.  Unlike Jon, he wasn’t young and strong, but already old, frail and blind when he got the news.  He read how they had killed his brother’s son, and his son, and the children….

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Suddenly, Jon has a moment of clarity and asks the old man, “Who are you?” And as he goes through his lineage, we find out that he is Aemon Targaryen, he was the uncle to the Mad King.  He will not tell Jon what to do, that choice is up to Jon. But once made, it will live with Jon for the rest of his days.  Is it just me, or did that not make it any easier for Jon to decide?

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Maester Aemon’s last surviving relative, Daenerys Targaryen, is crossing the desert when her sun and stars slips from his horse.  He is weak and his wound is not healing.  As he lays on the ground, one of his men, Qotho, says that a Khal who cannot ride is no Khal.  Dany quickly comes up with an excuse, they have to stop the caravan because she’s about to give birth.  She calls for Mirri, the healer who worked on Drogo after his injury.

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Back at camp Lannister, their scout has returned with the intel on Robb’s troop movement. Tyrion joins the discussion and his father tells him that he and his mountain men will be leading the vanguard.  Tyrion looks shocked, then amused, then furious as he blurts out, “surely there are ways to have me killed that would be less detrimental to the war effort.” His father cuts off further discussion, and Tyrion storms off.  Sounds like a typical Thanksgiving dinner at every house in America.

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Back in his tent, Tyrion finds Bronn waiting there with a whore that he “took” from Ser — “What’s his name.”  The less you ask Bronn, the better.  Tyrion tells Bronn the news, that they’ll be leading the charge in the morning.  Bronn decides he better find himself some company for what may be their last night.

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Tyrion starts talking to the girl, and she’s a spunky one.  She says her name is Shae and she has an exotic accent.  She asks Tyrion what he wants from her. He’s remarkably prepared for this question. “I want you to share my tent. I want you to pour my wine, laugh at my jokes, rub my legs when they’re sore after a day’s ride.  I want you to take no other man to bed for as long as we’re together.  And I want you to fuck me like it’s my last night in this world – which it may well be.”  Whoa, dude, give a girl some space!  But Shae is smart.  She asks what she gets in return for all that.  Safety, the pleasure of his company, and more gold than she could spend if she lived a thousand years.  Should have led with the last one.  Off come the clothes!

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Drogo is getting worse.  Jorah tells Dany that he won’t last the night, but she can’t accept that.  Jorah warns Dany that they should leave before Drogo dies, because once he’s dead there will be a struggle for power and she will lose. But she will not run.  She is Khaleesi and her unborn child will be the next Khal.  Jorah explains that, unlike Westeros, they don’t honor bloodlines here, only strength (well, bloodlines aren’t the only thing that carries the day in Westeros either as Joffrey is proving). The next Khal will kill her child rather than give up power.

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Mirri, the healer, comes in, followed by Qotho.  Mirri states the obvious, the wound has festered.  Qotho is still angry that Dany is letting this “witch” tend to Drogo and demands she stay away, but Dany wants her there (despite the fact that so far nothing she’s done has helped).  He threatens Dany what will happen to her if Drogo dies. He tells her she is nothing without him, but Dany will have none of that sass.  She is a Targaryen, blood of the dragon.  He’s not scared, all the dragons are gone he says as he leaves.  Dany and Jorah make plans to prepare for a fight.

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Mirri says there’s nothing she can do but ease his pain.  Dany will not accept this, there must be something she can do – some… magic?  That gets Mirri’s attention.  You want magic?  Sure, but it’ll cost you.  Only death pays for life.  Dany asks “Whose death?” but Mirri skirts the issue. She asks for Drogo’s horse. It goes, reluctantly, into the tent (do horses have a sixth sense?).  Even Rakharo tries to talk Dany out of this; blood magic is forbidden. But the ritual commences.  Mirri kills the horse, blood spurts everywhere.  Dany leaves and outside we hear strange, inhuman sounds coming from the tent.  Jorah asks, what have you done, and we’re all wondering that.  Qotho has heard enough, he heads into the tent to kill the witch and stop the magic, but Jorah defends Dany.

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But Qotho had struck Dany and thrown her to the ground, and that has induced labor.  The baby is coming and someone suggests the witch deliver the baby (what could possibly go wrong there) since the midwives might be afraid of getting near Dany with all the blood magic going on.  Jorah carries Dany into the tent where the blood sacrifice, magic, demonic shrieking and other supernatural stuff is going on.  But that was the only place approved by her HMO, so she didn’t have much choice.

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Shae and Tyrion are playing a game (who can hold their hand over the fire longer) and he’s losing.  Time for a new game.  Tyrion will make a statement about Shae and Bronn, if he’s right, they have to take a drink, if he’s wrong, he has to take a drink. Tyrion’s guesses about Bronn are right, but every one of his about Shae is wrong and he’s about to pass out from all the alcohol.  He’s convinced she’s lying because he fancies himself a great judge of people.  Shae turns the table on Tyrion and asks him about the woman that he loved.  Bronn had heard that Tyrion had been married (the Lannister soldiers are such gossips).

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So Tyrion (since he’s many sheets to the wind at this point) tells the story of his lost love.  He tells the story how he met a girl when he was 16, he thought she was being attacked and he came to her rescue as Jaime hunted down her attackers.  Her name was Tysha and they spent the night and in the morning he asked for her hand.  They were wed immediately and they lived happily ever after, until the septon who performed the marriage told Tyrion’s father Tywin about the nuptials about two weeks later.  That’s when Tyrion discovered the truth.  The whole thing had been a prank. Jaime had hired the girl, a whore, made up the whole scenario, because the thought it was time Tyrion got laid.  After Jaime fessed up, Tywin gave the girl to his guards, paying her a silver for each guard.  His father forced him to watch.  She was rolling in silver by the time she was done.  Bronn said Tyrion should have killed his father, Shae said Tyrion shouldn’t have been so gullible, and then she starts kissing him and you wonder. Is he still being gullible around women?

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The next morning, Tyrion and Shae are still asleep in bed when Bronn bursts in.  “You’re sleeping through the war.”  The Stark army is near, about a mile away.  Tyrion suits up and heads off to war.  Though he’s called the Imp, you don’t often notice his height because of the force of his presence. But as they gird for battle, Tyrion suddenly seems very small and literally in over his head. Bronn tells him to “stay low.”  If he’s lucky, no one will notice him.  Tyrion: “I was born lucky.”

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Tyrion calls together the tribesmen of the Vale and gives a great pre-fight pep talk.  He addresses each particular group – stone crows, black ears, burned men, moon brothers (and, someone adds, painted dogs!) – your dominion over the Vale begins now!  They are all riled up and start chanting “Half man!”  They charge off to battle, but Tyrion won’t be on the front lines as he is knocked out by one of his own men.  When he wakes, they have won. The tribesmen fought well, but the scouts were wrong, Robb wasn’t coming towards them with 20,000 men, in fact he didn’t go that way at all.  He sent ahead just 2,000 of his bannermen (so that’s why Robb let the Lannister scout go with that message!).  So if Robb wasn’t here, where was he?

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Catelyn and Rodrik are waiting and then they see Robb and his army coming towards them.  They had gone to Riverrun to take on Jaime Lannister and they were victorious.  Not only has Jaime’s army been defeated (at what is now called the Battle of the Whispering Wood), but Jaime the Kingslayer has been captured!!  Catelyn wants Jaime to give her back her daughters whom she believes are both still in the Lannisters’ control (she doesn’t know Arya is on the run) and give her Ned back.  But Jaime claims he cannot do this.

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Theon wants Jaime’s head, but Catelyn suggests he be locked up instead.  Jaime, one of the most gifted swordsmen in all the realm, offers Robb a solution.  Let’s battle it out right here, right now.  But Robb realizes he can’t beat Jaime that way, so that will not be how this is finished.  After Jaime is taken away, Robb addresses his men.  2,000 of his men were just sacrificed for the cause.  They may have won this war against Jaime Lannister, but Ned is still in prison, his sisters are still with the Lannisters, Joffrey is still on the throne, so the battle is not over.

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Arya is still in the city, but looks like a street orphan rather than a lady of Winterfell.  She’s trying to get some food, when she is drawn to the Great Sept of the Baelor (the center of religious worship in the city) where the Hand of the King is being taken.  King Joffrey is holding court and her father Ned is being brought before him to answer for his treason.  She runs to see him, climbing up on the statue of Baelor for whom the sept is named.  Her father spots her as he’s brought into the square.  He passes by Yoren from the Night’s Watch and has just a moment to utter “Baelor.” Luckily, Yoren understands, looks over at the statue and sees Arya.

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Ned stands before the crowd, his daughter Sansa is standing next to Cersei and the King.  She smiles at him as he starts to do what he has to do to save her life.  Ned is answering the question that Varys posed to him in the dungeon.  “What of your daughter’s life. Is that a precious thing to you?” Ned the honorable, the duty-bound, says, “I come before you to confess my treason in the sight of gods and men.”  He says what Cersei wants to hear.  He betrayed Robert, he plotted to kill Joffrey and seize the throne for himself.   Shouts of “Traitor!” can be heard, and some from the assembled masses hurl things at Ned.  He goes on, lying to save his daughters.  “Joffrey Baratheon is the one true heir of the Iron Throne.”  Joffrey is gleeful in victory and his mother can barely hide her own joy.  Even Sansa looks pleased.

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Grand Maester Pycelle speaks about how the gods can be both just and merciful, then turns to Joffrey for his ruling.  Joffrey tells us that his mother wants him to spare Ned Stark’s life, have him sent to the Night’s Watch, stripped of all rights and powers, to live out his days defending the realm in exile.  And he says that his dear Sansa has begged for mercy for her father.  So you’re ready for him to use this to explain why he’s being kind.  But he will not listen to these soft-hearted women.  “So long as I’m your king, treason shall never go unpunished.  Ser Ilyn.  Bring me his head!” Both Sansa and Cersei scream, trying to stop him.  But Joffrey has made up his evil little mind.

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From here time seems to speed up.  Sansa is hysterical, Arya is devastated and Cersei is pissed.  Even Varys runs over and tries to talk with the King. Meanwhile, Ilyn Paine, the royal executioner, can not get his black hood on fast enough.  Ned is put down, his head lowered.  Arya is running towards him, when Yoren grabs her.  He tells her not to look, not to say anything and keep her eyes on him.  Ned looks around, he’s looking for Arya but she’s not at the statue any more.  He bows his head and we hear the sound the sword makes as it slices through and it’s all over.  Arya opens her eyes and sees birds flying away in the sky.  She’s holding tight to Yoren and closes her eyes again.  The end.

That was one of the most shocking moments in any show I’ve ever seen.  The hero isn’t supposed to die, certainly not the first season!  Someone swoops in and saves the day at the eleventh hour.  But that’s not the world of GoT.  Ned sacrificed his honor for his family and ended up with neither.  The good man dies an admitted traitor.  Sansa was betrayed by the man she’s supposed to marry and she’s not the only one.  Joffrey, a psychotic manchild, wields immense unrestrained power.  Cersei thinks she’s in charge but she cannot control her son.  Robb thinks he has a bargaining chip (Jaime Lannister) that he can use to save his father, but his father is already dead.  And Arya is about as alone as a person can get.  Tough episode.

Favorite lines:

Varys: I am the Master of Whisperers.  My role is to be sly, obsequious and without scruples. I’m a good actor my Lord.

Greatjon Umber: Expect nothing of Walder Frey and you’ll never be surprised.

Tyrion: Shagga likes axes.

Tyrion: Let’s play a new game.
Bronn: There’s a Bravoosi knife game I could teach you —
Tyrion: Does it involve the potential for losing fingers?
Bronn: Not if you win.

Tyrion (to Bronn): You once loved a woman many years ago, but it turned out badly so you’ve never let yourself love again.  Oh wait, that’s me.

Tyrion (to Shae): Your turn, my mysterious foreign beauty.
Shae: I don’t want to play.
Tyrion: It’s fun.  Look at the fun we’re having.

Tyrion: Impossible as it seems, there was a time when I was unaccustomed to wine.

Bronn (after hearing Tyrion’s story): I would have killed the man who did that to me.

Shae (to Tyrion): You sould have known she was a whore.  A girl who was almost raped doesn’t invite another man into her bed two hours later.
Tyrion: As I said, I was young and stupid.
Shae: You’re still young and stupid.

Tyrion (to Bronn): Did we win?
Bronn: We wouldn’t be having this conversation if we didn’t

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Recap of Season 1, Episode 10: “Fire and Blood”

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The bloody sword. The first thing we see is the sword that took the life of Ned Stark. We hear the crowd cheering, we see Ned’s head being raised by the executioner, Ilyn Payne, and then we’re faced with poor Arya, clutching Yoren, yet looking so alone among those who cheer her “traitor” father’s death.

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Yoren says to her, “you remember me boy?” He keeps saying “boy,” how she’s a smart boy and will be coming with him. He picks up her up and carries her away. Elsewhere, we see her sister Sansa passing out. Yoren has Arya alone and he finally gets his point across to her. He’ll take her North, to safety, but it’ll be easier for him to leave with a boy recruit for the Night’s Watch than the late Ned Stark’s daughter.

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Cawing means one thing, Bran is having that dream again. He follows the three-eyed raven into the Stark family crypt, it rests on the direwolf, and Bran follows it. His father is there. Bran tells Osha about the dream as she carries him towards the crypt (Hodor is afraid to go in there). As they walk through, he tells her his family’s history, his grandfather Rickard, burned alive by the Mad King Aerys, his aunt Lyanna, kidnapped and killed by Raeghar Targaryen, Bran points to where in the dream he saw Ned, and Osha shows Bran that he’s not there, it was just a dream.

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Suddenly, we hear a strange growling sound. A direwolf charges for them, and it turns out it’s Rickon’s wolf Shaggydog. Rickon is down in the crypt to see their father. Bran reminds him that father is back at King’s Landing with Arya and Sansa, but Rickon swears he saw him in the crypt last night…when he was sleeping. So Rickon has pretty accurate dreams, too.

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Osha and Bran leave the crypt and Osha is telling Bran that it’s perfectly normal for them to dream about their dad, whom they miss, but that it doesn’t mean anything. Then we see Maester Luwin reading a parchment and we can tell he just received the news about Ned.

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Catelyn is walking, emotionless, through a line of soldiers who drop to their knees as she passes and you know they all know what happened at King’s Landing. When she is alone, she starts to lose control. Then she hears steel clanging and grunting and she finds Robb beside himself with grief, taking all his anger and hurt out on a poor, defenseless tree. He collapses in her arms and cries that he’ll kill them all. But Catelyn reminds him that “they” have her sisters. “We have to get the girls back,” she says. “And then we will kill them all.”

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In the throne room, King Joffrey is sitting in judgment. Marillion, a troubadour, is singing a song about the late King Robert that mocks the king’s rotundity and his ball-buster of a widow Cersei. Joffrey fake applauds the song (possibly inventing the slow-clap) and then asks the troubadour what punishment would be appropriate for him singing that offensive song in a tavern. Would he prefer to lose his fingers or his tongue, keeping in mind that slitting his throat is not off the table. Marillion says a man needs his hands, so Joffrey orders Ser Ilyn Payne as the ideal candidate to cut out the man’s tongue.

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Having ordered the torture and mutilation, Joffrey is done for the day. He walks by a red-faced and nearly catatonic Sansa and tells her she looks nice. If possible, that moment is even creepier than his sentencing the troubadour, which we see and hear carried out at the same moment. Joffrey suggests they take a walk. What could possibly be bad about that? Oh, wait, this is Joffrey we’re talking about. He tells her that as soon as she’s able to conceive, he’ll put a baby in her. He’s such a romantic! And, look, here’s what he wants to show her – her father’s head on a spike. And her Septa and others loyal to the Starks. He’s such a giver.

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In fact, he promises to give Sansa her brother Robb’s head as well. Sansa defiantly responds, “Or he’ll give me yours,” and we realize that he hasn’t killed her spirit. There’s still some Stark in there. He stays calm, saying his mother said he cannot hit his intended, so instead he orders Ser Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard to do it for him. Stay classy, Joffrey. They’re standing on a bridge and after Sansa is struck, it occurs to her that she could shove Joffrey over the edge. She moves towards him, but the Hound stops her. Surprisingly, instead of letting Joffrey know what she was planning, the Hound acts as if he just wanted to wipe away her blood. The Hound gives her some advice, “Save yourself some pain, girl. Give him what he wants.” That was kinda nice of him.

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Back at Robb’s camp, they’re discussing their next move. Some suggest pledging themselves to Lord Renly and moving south to join his army. Robb disagrees. Renly has no claim, he is Robert’s youngest brother. If anyone has a rightful claim to the throne, it’s Stannis. Greatjon Umber says, a pox on both of them. The North should be self-ruling. The North bowed to the dragons, but now that the dragons are dead, the North should rule itself. The only king he would recognize is Robb, The King in the North. Theon declares himself for “his brother” Robb. One by one, each of the men takes a knee proclaiming Robb the King in the North.

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Catelyn goes to see her prisoner, Jaime Lannister. He starts baiting her, making rude sexual innuendos to Ned’s widow. She picks up a rock and hits him alongside the head. They spar verbally; he is all cockiness and bravado, she is full of anger and hatred. He mocks her late husband’s gods, she tells him what a vile person he is. She asks about Bran and Jaime confesses to pushing him out the window. Why? “I thought the fall would kill him.” Well, you ask as stupid question…. Either Jaime has a huge death wish, or he realizes he is worth more alive than dead.

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Cersei is alone with a naked Lancel (her late husband’s squire and her cousin), and he’s excited at the prospect of war. Elsewhere, his father Kevan, Tywin’s brother, is at a war meeting with Tywin, Tyrion and various others. They are discussing Robb taking Jaime hostage and that fact that both Renly and Stannis Baratheon have declared against the Lannisters. Jaime’s army was destroyed and things are looking bleak. Someone suggests suing for peace and Tyrion says the chance for peace ended when Ned Stark lost his head.

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Tywin Lannister cuts through all the jibber jabber of what should be done next by booming, “They have my son!” One wonders if Tywin acted the same when Tyrion was taken captive. Putting that aside, Tywin agrees with his youngest son – if Ned Stark were alive they would have a bargaining chip to use to get Jaime back and they would have time to deal with the Baratheon brothers. For now, the plan is for the Mountain to take the Riverland and the rest will regroup at Harrenhall (NW of King’s Landing and just south of the Trident). As for Tyrion, he’ll go back to King’s Landing. To do what, he asks. To rule, to be Hand of the King in Tywin’s stead. Tyrion is shocked. Why him? “You’re my son.” How does Tywin manage to sound so pained making such a simple statement? One more thing, Tyrion can’t take “his whore” with him.

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Daenerys wakes up and Jorah, who had been at her bedside, tells her that her son is dead. He was born dead, his body twisted and scaled like a lizard with wings like a bat. Mirri had delivered the baby and she tells Dany what happened and then adds that she had warned Dany that only death can pay for life. She may possibly have the world’s worst bedside manner. Dany says if her son’s life was the price she paid to save Drogo, so be it. She demands to see her sun and stars.

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As they go to see Drogo, Jorah tells Dany that the khalasar has left. There are just a few of the Dothraki left. Dany sees Drogo and, yes, he’s alive, but in a vegetative state. He’s just a shell. Mirri has had her fun. She promised a life for a life, she didn’t say anything about the quality of that life. She did this to spite them all. They burned her temple, murdered and raped her people, and this is what they deserve. Dany and Drogo’s son would have burned down cities; with his death, the cities are safe. Dany is incredulous. “I saved you!” But Mirri tells her she’d already been raped by three men by the time Dany “saved” her.

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We finally know what Jon has decided. Sam cries out, “You can’t,” but Jon is leaving the Wall to go and fight for Ned, for Robb. Sam tries his hardest to stop him and warns Jon what happens to deserters, but Jon used to watch his old man chop the heads off of deserters, so he’s aware of the risk he’s taking.

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Shae is not thrilled to learn about Tyrion’s promotion, especially as it means she can’t come with him. She’s ticked that she’s being treated like a common whore since, I suspect, she thinks she’s an uncommon one. But she has Tyrion wrapped around her finger, so she pouts and he gives in.

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Jon is running away with Ghost his direwolf by his side when he hears sounds of hooves coming up behind and then shouts and the name “Samwell!” He turns around to find Pyp, Sam and Grenn out in the woods to find him and bring him back to Castle Black before anyone finds that he has left. Jon tells them that he has to go help his brother, but Sam reminds him that “we’re your brothers now.” Awww, how can you say no to that? You can’t, and neither can Jon. Especially when each of his friends recite the vow they took, it’s all pretty sweet.

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Dany is taking care of Drogo and talking to him, hoping to see some sign that he’s still in there. Slowly, she comes to realize that he’s gone and never coming back, just like Mirri said. She kisses him one last time and then puts a pillow over his face and smothers him.

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It’s sexposition time, brought to you by Maester Pycelle. Really not someone you want to have in a sentence with the word sex in it. He’s awfully chatty, regaling Ros, our favorite redheaded whore, with all the kings he’s served. Aerys Targaryen, who had once been a good man until he was consumed by dreams of fire and blood and fell into madness. Robert Baratheon, a powerful man and a great warrior, but not nearly as adept as ruling the kingdom as he was at winning it.

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He praises the current king as a capable young man with a strong military mind, stern. Perhaps he’s been sucking too much milk of the poppy if he thinks what Joffrey does can be labeled stern. He goes on to say he sees true greatness with Joffrey. And he thinks Aerys was mad? So Ros leaves and he’s been coughing and asking her to repeat things and basically acting like a doddering old man. Until she shuts the door, and he stands straight up, starts doing calisthenics to put Jack LaLane to shame, and we discover that Pycelle is not what he seems.

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We see Littlefinger standing in the throne room, looking up at the Iron Throne. Varys walks in and asks him what his vision is of life when he’s ruling Westeros. Littlefinger doesn’t skip a beat and accepts that he has ambitions. He asks what Varys would do, and he responds that he’s probably one of the few men who does not want to be king. Littlefinger takes a few jabs at the eunuch, asking him some delicate questions. Their exchange is rather heated for one in such hushed tones, with such a veneer of civility. There is animus and posturing, but each appears wary of the other.

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It’s such a riveting scene, it begs another photo. These two were in the small council, the innermost circle with the last king, who died mysteriously, and now hold the same position with the new king. One admits he wants power, the other has said all he wants is what’s best for the realm. Varys, the eunuch former actor with no significant bloodline and Baelish, aka Littlefinger, the self made man with excellent connections, both advising the most powerful men in the realm.

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Introducing Arry the orphan boy. Apparently orphans in the capital get really bad haircuts. But it is a great thing Yoren has done for Arya, giving her a way to be incognito. He’s rounding up some twenty boys to take to the Wall, so she won’t stand out. He tells her she’s not safe as a girl, but if she keeps her head down and stays out of trouble, he should be able to get her up there safely.

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Of course, Arya immediately gets in the middle of a scrape with some bigger boys, who were looking for someone to bully. They picked the wrong girl – uh – boy. They try and steal her sword, but she is not giving up Needle. She comes at the fatter and more belligerent of the two boys and tells him she’s already killed a fat boy and would be happy to add him to her Kill Bill-like list.

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She backs him up into an older boy who then gives the fat boy even more grief (oh, you like picking on the little ones, do you?). It’s Gendry, the blacksmith that Ned Stark talked to and figured out was one of Robert’s bastards. He scares the bullies away and then talks to Arya for a bit, noticing that the sword she has is of very high quality. He explains that he’s going to the Wall because his master (who he apprenticed for) grew tired of him. Yoren gets them all rounded up and headed 1,000 Leagues to the North. Winter is Coming.

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It’s a new morning at Castle Black and Commander Mormont is grousing about his breakfast. He offhandedly asked Jon Snow if he’s tired from his moonlight ride. So Mormont knows about Jon’s desertion. But Jon isn’t in trouble. Everyone tries to run away and at least he had a nobler reason than to find a whorehouse nearby. But no more talk about going south. There are problems north of the Wall, rangers finding whole villages abandoned. A captured wildling said the tribes are joining forces and more of the blue-eyed re-animated corpses (wights) have been found near the wall.

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So Mormont asks him: “Do you think your brother’s war is more important than ours?” When he give the right answer, no, he wins a trip beyond the Wall! Mormont is taking a small party out there tomorrow and he wants Jon to come (and bring your direwolf). Being a season-ending episode, Mormont adds a great mini-speech about what he hopes to accomplish (next time!) including finding Benjen Stark, dead or alive.

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A funeral pyre is built for Drogo and Dany places the three dragon’s eggs with his body. Jorah discourages her from destroying the eggs, saying she could sell them for enough money to live out the rest of her days a wealthy woman. But she refuses. Jorah knows that Dany intends to join Drogo in the fire and he doesn’t want her to kill herself. But Dany knows what she has to do. She speaks to the small remaining group of slaves. She tells them that they will be her khalasar, not slaves any more. They can go if they wish, or they can stay with her and live free. Mirri finds it funny when a bunch leave and her chuckles did not go unnoticed. Dany orders Jorah to tie Mirri to the pyre.

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Dany proclaims herself the dragon’s daughter. As the fires grow higher, and the singing of the sorceress turns to screams, Dany walks into the flames. Jorah looks on, but knows he can’t stop her. The next morning, the freed slaves who stayed are just waking as Jorah and Rakharo walks towards the pile of ashes that was the pyre. There, on the ground, he finds Dany, dirty, naked, but alive. We hear a sound and then we see it, a red baby dragon on her shoulder. Jorah kneels, saying, “Blood of my blood.” The rest of her khalasar bow down to her as she stands, displaying all three of her baby dragons. She’s not only the dragon’s daughter, she’s the mother of dragons.

That’s the end of season one!  Dany has dragons! The Night’s Watch is heading north of the wall to fight for the realm.  Arya has escaped King’s Landing.

Favorite lines:

Joffrey: I’ll tell you what. I’m going to give you a present. After I raise my armies, and kill your traitor brother, I’ll give you his head as well.
Sansa: Or maybe he’ll give me yours.

Jaime: You look lovely tonight Lady Stark. Widowhood becomes you. Your bed must be lonely, is that why you came? I’m not at my best, but I think I could be of service. Here, slip out of that gown and we’ll see if I’m up to it.

Jaime: There are no men like me. Only me.

Tywin: I always thought you were a stunted fool. Perhaps I was wrong.

Tyrion: Half wrong.

Tywin: And if you get so much as a whiff of any treason from any of the rest — Baelish, Varys, Pycelle —
Tyrion: Heads, spikes, walls.

Pyp, Sam and Grenn (reciting the Night’s Watch Oath):
Hear my words and bear witness to my vow. Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.

Pycelle: If a man goes through life with his battle visor down, he can often be blind to the enemies at his side.

Varys (to Littlefinger in the throne room): When you imagine yourself up there, how do you look? Does the crown fit? Do all the lords and ladies simper and bow, the ones who sneered at you for years?
Littlefinger: It’s hard for them to simper and bow without heads.
Varys: A man with great ambitions and no morals. I wouldn’t bet against you.

Mormont: Honor made you leave. Honor brought you back.
Jon: My friends brought me back.
Mormont: I didn’t say it was your honor.

Mormont: When dead men and worse come hunting for us in the night, do you think it matters who sits on the Iron Throne?

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Recap of Season 2, Episode 1: “The North Remembers”

Last season ended with a new king, Joffrey Baratheon (who we know to be not a Baratheon at all, but the child of the incestuous relationship of Cersei and Jaime Lannister), the death of the previous Hand of the King, Ned Stark, who tried to uncover the truth, and Ned’s son Robb girding for war against those responsible for his father’s death. Plus, Dany has dragons!

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During the opening credits we see a new location, Dragonstone. Dragonstone is a volcanic island in Blackwater Bay on the east coast of Westeros. As its name suggests, it had housed the ancestral home (Dragstone Castle) of the Targaryens.

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It’s a beautiful, sunny day in King’s Landing, perfect weather for murderous battles to amuse the teenage king. We watch a brutal duel held on a wall-walk (or allure, as I learned this was called) at the Red Keep and one man falling to his death. The Mountain is victorious again. Joffrey is quite tickled at the outcome. Well struck! He says. Now watching men fight to the death for your amusement isn’t any fun without someone to share it with, so he asks his betrothed Sansa what she thought of the battle.

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Sansa recently saw her father decapitated. She’s alone in the capital with no friends or relatives and she’s engaged to a sadistic psychopath who has already promised to kill more of her family. So forgive her if she’s a little confused on how to answer a direct question. She mimics Joffrey, thinking what could possibly please him more than his own words, but that doesn’t work. And he gets mad. And you don’t want to see him mad. It’s like happy but deadlier.

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Time for the next duel, only one of the participants has had way too much mead. He’s sloshed and a sloppy mess and in no position to put on a good fight. But Joffrey is going to get his entertainment value out of this guy one way or the other. He devises a plan to drown the man in wine, a punishment he feels fits the crime of displeasing him. Sansa has seen enough cruelty for a lifetime so she tries to stop Joffrey. “You cahnt!” she exclaims. Joffrey gives her a WTF look. He’s not used to hearing can’t, even with such a posh accent. She looks next in line to lose her head until she quickly comes up with a ruse – it would be unlucky to kill someone on his name day.

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Joffrey ridicules Sansa and her silly Northern superstitions and then out of nowhere The Hound comes to her defense! He vouches for her (I’m sure) made up superstition and helps Sansa spare the poor man’s life – at least for today. The Hound is such a confusing character. His brother is easy to figure out – he is evil personified. But the Hound is far more nuanced and seems to possess a soul.

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Perhaps emboldened by the support, Sansa goes further in her attempt to save this life. She picks up on what Joffrey said, how foolish Ser Dontos is, and jumps on it. You’re so clever to see that – he’d make a better fool than a knight. A quick death is too good for him, he should perform for you. Truly brilliant – she’s figured out how to manipulate Joffrey without him realizing what’s happening. Nice for her to have this small sense of power in an otherwise powerless situation. Dontos almost blows it by thanking Joffrey AND Sansa, but Joffrey misses it.

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Here come Tyrion to the rescue. He greets his king/nephew: “We looked for you on the battlefield. You were nowhere to be found.” Joffrey sputters about how he was needed at the capital and Tyrion ignores him while showering his other niece and nephew with love. They are as happy to see him as Joffrey is ticked and the nature-nurture debate continues, with birth order seeming to be something of an indicator of douchiness.

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Tyrion offers his sincere condolences to Sansa for her loss but Joffrey is appalled that she should mourn a traitor just because he was her father and she loved him and he was pretty awesome even if he gave her a lame doll not long before he died. Sansa mouths some words she thinks Joffrey wants to hear and Tyrion looks so sorry for her.

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But we the viewer have something to celebrate on this name day. There’s a new sheriff in town. Joffrey didn’t expect Tyrion and seems confused what he’s doing there. He’s not the only one. The small council is blathering about how long the winter will be and what to do about all those commoners who expect to eat and Cersei doesn’t even consider letting them have cake when who should come in to shake things up but the new Hand of the King.

Was it just me or did Cersei not seem excited about having her baby brother there?

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Cersei is apoplectic, which means she raises an eyebrow. How could he have tricked father into doing this? Tyrion tells her the truth – she brought it on herself by failing to control her son. But Tyrion is about to learn that Cersei’s lack of oversight has cost them dearly. They had three Starks to trade for Jaime, but she let her son lop one’s head off while allowing a second, Arya, to escape. Tyrion is here to make sure there are no more screw ups in the future, and he couldn’t feel any more smug.

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North from here, Bran Stark in the man of the house, the house being Winterfell. As the big cheese, it falls to him to listen to all of the townspeople’s complaints and problems. Bran is spunky and won’t let anyone bad mouth his brother Robb, who is leading a battle to defend the North from the Lannisters. Maester Luwin is there to help him rule and learn what being Lord of Winterfell entails.

We switch to direwolf POV, when we look up and see a comet blazing red across the sky. The direwolf looks at its reflection in a pond then we switch to Bran in slumberland. The direwolf no longer takes him to the crypt in his dreams, so what if anything does the new location mean?

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Bran is saddled onto Hodor in a reverse baby bjorn and the wildling Osha is with them as he goes to investigate his dream. They talk about the strange comet and what it could mean. Some say it’s an omen that Robb will win a great victory in the South. Osha said she heard some call it Lannister red and that it means they will rule the Seven Kingdoms. Still others say it’s the color of blood, for Ned Stark. But Osha has her own theory – dragons. Did she watch the last season’s finale?

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Across the narrow sea, the comet is hanging over Dany’s small line of followers as they walk through a dry, desolate wasteland called, appropriately enough, the Red Waste. Dany’s horse, her wedding gift from Drogo, passes out and Dany is losing hope. But Jorah tells her they are marching the right way, east to the sea. Dany decides on a plan. She asks three of her strongest men to each travel in opposite directions looking for any sign of civilization, then come back and report on their findings. She’s going to lead her people but not by just marching blindly.

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We get a respite from the heat as we shift to the North. This is the search and rescue party organized to find out what happened to Benjen Stark and what the hell is going on north of the Wall. They stop at a small town (Craster’s Keep) and Sam must think it’s a mirage. “Are those girls?” But his brothers tell him to stay away. The guy who lives there, Craster, is pretty territorial about his daughters and his wives who just happen to be the same thing! Sounds like a new TLC show in the making. Jon asks an interesting question – what does Craster do with his sons?

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Lord Commander Jeor Mormont is asking Craster if he’s seen Benjen Stark as his plan was to come through this way, but Craster says he hasn’t seen him for three years. Apparently he and Benjen weren’t the chummiest duo. Jon manages to tick him off immediately. Like uncle like nephew?

Mormont wants to know what’s going on up here. Wildlings are abandoning their homes. Craster claims that they’re relocating north to join with Mance Rayder (the former Night’s Watch brother who broke his vows and moved north to claim the title King Beyond the Wall). Craster thinks Mance is gathering an army.

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But Craster isn’t worried. He has a nice cushy thing with his obedient wives/daughters and he proves it by having one recite what he’s taught her of how happy she is freezing and living as someone’s sex slave. He shows his guests some Craster hospitality, they can sleep there but if anyone touches one of his wives he loses that hand. Not hard to imagine what one would lose if it goes any farther than that.

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When they leave the tense meeting with Craster, Mormont is pissed at Jon. His mouth could get them all in trouble. He needs to remember his place.

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The sun had set and the comet is still visible in the night’s sky. We hear a woman’s voice praying to The Lord of Light. This is Melisandre and we are on the island of Dragonstone. There’s a religious ritual going on where what she calls the false gods are burned in effigy. She is leading a group as they set fire to the large statues of the old gods to curry favor with the Red God.

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An old man (Maester Cressen) runs in, panting. He’s late for the ceremony. He tells another man (Davos) “we need to stop her.” He is upset that their old gods – the seven – are being rebuked. Melisandre comes over to him, all mysterious and dangerous. “You smell of fear,” she tells the old man. She challenges him to try and stop her. But no one wants to join with him, so he retreats.

She goes over to a stern-looking man. It is the late king’s brother Stannis Baratheon. She tells him to grab Excalibur the lightsaber fiery sword that signifies that he will be the bringer of light, the one to rule all. When a girl offers you something like that, you can’t say no. He grabs the sword (smartly in a gloved hand, he’s not Dany) and plunges it into the ground and the people go crazy.

The cranky maester and Davos talk afterwards. Cressen does not at all like where this is going, but Davos is loyal and starts singing “I will follow him.”

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Matthos, a squire (also Davos’ son), is writing a letter for Stannis to sign and we get great insight into the late king’s brother. He won’t lie (he wasn’t my beloved brother), he won’t sugar-coat and he is proper. The letter exposes the truth about Joffrey, that he is not Robert’s true-born heir. It also takes Myrcella and Tommen down with him. Stannis has learned from very headless Ned not to keep information that explosive secret but to make sure everyone in the seven kingdoms knows the truth.

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Davos suggests that Stannis and his younger brother Renly join forces against the common enemy, the Lannisters. But Stannis won’t hear if it, not while Renly is calling himself king. He doesn’t care how popular his brother is, the lines of succession are clear. He also won’t work with Robb Stark because that would entail naming him king of the north. It’s Stannis, one true ruler, or nothing.

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Cressen stands and pretends he’s suddenly just fine with Melisandre disavowing his gods and offers a toast. Not that anyone would have been fooled by his 180, but Davos doesn’t help things by saying “Don’t.” The old maester drinks from the goblet of fire and hands it to Melisandre and she hesitates and then, as he starts spurting blood out of his mouth, she coolly drinks down the poison with no effect. Okay, so she’s not your ordinary religious zealot.

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Robb Stark goes to visit his prisoner Jaime Lannister and brings his direwolf Grey Wind with him for muscle. He’s been taking the Kingslayer with him as he moves his army south. Jaime tries to intimidate and unhinge Robb, but this time Robb has something on him – the ravens that have blanketed Westeros telling everyone the truth about Joffrey. Jaime pretends to be unruffled, but it’s not good news that the secret he was willing to kill for is now realm-wide gossip. Robb is sending his peace terms down to King’s Landing, but Jaime gives him one of those “I don’t think you know who you’re dealing with” warnings. Then White Fang comes up and snarls at Jaime just for fun.

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In King’s landing, Tyrion’s whore girlfriend Shae is having her Carrie Bradshaw moment, rhapsodizing about life in the big city. But Tyrion wants her to be careful, lest his father find out she’s there.

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Cersei asks for Littlefinger’s help locating the missing Stark hostage child, Arya. Littlefinger has no clue where she is, but he thinks Varys with all his little birds must have heard something. Interesting fact about Littlefinger. The mockingbird pin he wears is his own sigil – not coming from a storied family, he has started his own. A truly self-made man.

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Cersei lets Littlefinger know that she knows all about his childhood obsession with Catelyn Stark and he gives it right back letting her know that he knows all about her brotherly obsession with Jaime. She’s had just about enough of him when he tries the old “knowledge is power” adage. Somehow Littlefinger forgot that both Jon Arryn and Ned Stark had the same knowledge that he possesses and that knowledge did not serve them well. Cersei doesn’t flinch before going for the jugular. Literally. Well, almost. She just wanted to prove her point to Littlefinger that power is power. Well played.

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Robb explains to Alton Lannister what his terms are for peace. He sends the queen regent’s cousin off with his demands – return of his sisters, alive, return of his father, in his moribund condition, and with as many parts for proper burial as possible, return of those loyal to the Starks, and freedom for the North. Robb will give them Jaime and withdraw his army. It seems no one thinks the Lannisters will take the deal, so Theon Greyjoy suggests he can be part of a Plan B. His father, Balon Greyjoy, is the Lord of the Iron Islands. The one thing the Iron Islands has is ships. I bet you thought I was going to say iron. Anyway, if Robb wants to take King’s Landing, he’s going to need ships. Robb is hesitant to jump at the idea.

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When Theon was young, his father had led a rebellion against the Iron Throne. His two oldest sons were killed and his youngest (Theon) made a ward of Ned Stark’s. Theon thinks he can ask his father to join Robb against the current occupant of the Iron Throne, but Rob’s really distrustful mother Catelyn thinks this is not a great idea. Cat warns Robb not to trust Balon Greyjoy.

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Cat is over everything and ready to go home and parent her two boys when Robb asks her to hang with him a little longer. Can she ride to the Stormlands to meet Renly Baratheon and ask for his help? If his supporters join the Stark bannermen, they might have enough soldiers to take King’s Landing. He really sells this, we will crush them then go home and all be together again (except for Ned). But it’s everything she wants, so she agrees.

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It’s Extreme Makeover: Iron Throne Edition and Joffrey is more of a diva than any decorator on any of these shows – when he says he wants fierce, he literally means fierce. Cersei instead wants to discuss something actually important like finding Arya Stark so they would have greater bargaining power. She tells her son that he can ask gramps for extra men but he bristles – a king commands, he doesn’t ask.

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Joffrey mentions that he’s heard some awful rumors about his mother and Uncle Daddy Jaime. Cersei brushes it off as all lies but that doesn’t stop Joffrey from asking about others who might have a claim to the throne. He figures King Robert must have been getting very busy all across the Seven Kingdoms because Cersei is such a stone cold bitch. Cersei doesn’t take this well and slaps The King in front of the workers from Lumber Liquidators. Joffrey is pissed and tells her no one has ever slapped Ty Pennington and if she does that again she’ll be chopped. He’s so mad, he can’t even keep his reality TV shows straight!

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A new hire is getting the tour of Littlefinger’s brothel from Ros – a high class establishment that caters to the upper class – when Lord Commander Janos Slynt of the City Watch enters. He’s looking for a woman and he’s come to the right place. But the girl he’s looking for has a new baby – with dark hair just like her father, the late King. Uh oh. Operation “kill the bastards” is underway and it’s colder and more brutal than anything we’ve seen in Westeros before. When one of the guards hesitates to slaughter the innocent baby, Janos steps in and handles it himself matter-of-factly.

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Slynt gets to the blacksmith, Tobho Mott, and ask about the boy who used to work there. Gendry, is his name the threatened Mott tells him, and he went north to join the Night’s Watch. You’ll spot him by the bull’s head helm he made himself. Segue to the bull’s head helm tossed in the back of the cart carrying Gendry, Arya and the rest up the Kingsroad.

Favorite lines:

Tyrion (about the Hound): This one doesn’t like me.
Bronn: Can’t imagine why.

Tyrion (to Cersei): You love your children. That’s your one redeeming quality. That and your cheekbones.

Tyrion (to Cersei): It must be odd for you. To be the disappointing child.

Jeor (to Jon): You want to lead some day? Then learn how to follow.

Melisandre: For the night is dark and full of terrors.

Jaime: You don’t trust the loyalty of the men following you into battle?
Robb: Oh, I trust them with my life. Just not with yours.

Catelyn: There’s a king in every corner now.

Posted in Season Two | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Recap of Season 2, Episode 2: “The Night Lands”

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The credits identify a new location for this episode, Pyke. Pyke is the home of the Greyjoys, so can Theon’s teary reunion with his family be far away?

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We open on Arya relieving herself in private so as not to let her fellow travelers know that she lacks even a little finger. As she heads back to work at camp, she passes by a cart carrying three criminals for delivery to the Night’s Watch. One of them speaks to her and calls her “lovely boy” which means either he’s a recruiter for Penn State or he’s on to her cross-dressing ruse. The man speaks of himself in the third person (though he does share his name – Jaqen H’ghar), is polite, attractive and has an interesting accent, but none of those things gets him any water as his fellow prisoners just get Arya’s blood boiling.

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Gendry tries to counsel Arya on how to avoid trouble when some members of the City Guard come into camp. They are far from their normal jurisdiction of King’s Landing. Arya is convinced they are looking for her (which they would be if anyone had thought Arya would be there undercover as a Night’s Watch recruit). But instead they’re there to kill off another of late King Robert’s bastards. Yoren comes up to deal with the Gold Cloaks, and makes sure they know that he is not trembling before them. The City Watch can’t just grab one of his recruits, these boys and men don’t belong to the realm any more. The lead guard goes for his sword but in the time it takes him to unsheathe it, Yoren has his dagger strategically placed to guarantee attention and obedience.

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It works for the most part. The guard makes sure everyone knows that they were there to find a young boy named Gendry – and in case they don’t know their fellow recruits by name, he makes sure to add that Gendry is the fellow with the bull’s head helm. That should narrow it down. The king will pay dearly for anyone to turn him over. They promise to return, make Yoren pay for his dagger trick, and find their man.

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Birds are singing, the new Hand of the King is whistling, it’s another beautiful day in the Capital. Until Tyrion walks into his chambers and finds Shae in the spider’s web. What was the one thing Tyrion asked – that no one find out he brought his girlfriend with him to King’s Landing. And who now knows? Oh, just the Master of freakin’ Whisperers.

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They parry and thrust and each scores a minor victory in the verbal duel. But there is no question that Tyrion is worried about Varys knowing the truth. We’re not sure whether his concern is well placed. Varys makes it clear that Tyrion has power and influence and if he (Varys) can count on his (Tyrion’s) “friendship” there is no reason for Varys to let the secret slip. Tyrion does not like being played and he tells Varys not to threaten him. He’s no Ned Stark and he understands the way the game is played. Varys responds with the truth – power comes and goes, as do those who think they’re powerful, and yet Varys stays and stays. It’s mostly a draw, slight advantage to the eunuch.

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The small council is meeting to listen to and then laugh at Robb Stark’s peace demands, delivered not by raven but by Alton Lannister, one of many cousins of the de facto ruling family. Cersei does to the letter what she did to the letter written on Robert’s deathbed. Dwight Shrute would shudder at the wanton disregard for paper this woman displays.

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Cersei plans to send her cousin Alton back with their response. Basically, Robb can go pound sand. Tyrion suggests that they could at least return Ned Stark’s bones for proper burial, but Cersei will not agree to any concession. Before cousin leaves, however, we have an incredibly awkward moment where sisterly love tries to mask lover-ly love for her missing twin. When he sees Jaime again, “Tell him he’s not been forgotten.”

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Maester Pycelle presents a letter from Castle Black and Tyrion intercepts it so it can be read before Cersei gets her paper-shredding hands on it. There are troubles with the wildlings as well as a growing threat from a King north of the Wall. Cersei is unconvincing in her attempt to pretend all these pretenders to her son’s crown don’t worry her. She’s much more convincing as someone who will not for a moment entertain the thought that there is anything spooky going on North of the Wall. She completely disregards the warnings in the letter of the dead rising – though in fairness they should have included at least some fuzzy video of a white walker if they wanted her to believe. Tyrion tries to tell the council about Commander Mormont’s close encounter of the wight kind, but Cersei can’t be bothered. She ridicules her brother giving any credence to the report saying, one trip to the wall and now you believe in grumpkins and snarks. Tyrion is angry and frustrated and gives the council fair warning – the Wall and the men who defend it are all that separates us from what lies beyond the Wall. But they all walk out on him, following the queen, leaving Mormont’s request unanswered.

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Back at Craster’s Keep, Grenn and another brother nicknamed Dolorous Edd are having a very serious discussion of death and flatulence when Sam comes up to join them. He can’t get over the abundance of unavailable (for many reasons) women there. Grenn talks about his previous experience with the ladies and Sam is full-on envious.

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Jon’s direwolf Ghost is proving himself an able wingman for Sam, looking menacingly at one of Craster’s girls so that Sam can swoop in all heroic and save the damsel. Sam tells Ghost to skedaddle and the sweet young girl looks at him earnestly and says “you’re so heroic” and I thought he was going to swell up like Violet Beauregard. He brings his new friend over to Jon, who’s already been warned by Commander Mormont not to get into any mischief. Jon takes one look at the girl and knows he wants no part of whatever Sam is selling. But Sam can’t help himself, he knows her name and her condition (with child) and wants Jon to help him help her.

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Help her what, Jon asks. Leave. Escape. Blow this pop stand. Make like a too-tight pair of pants and split. Sam is like a little kid coming upon an abandoned puppy. She’s cute, can we keep her? Jon states the obvious, if touching one of Craster’s girls costs you a hand, what do you lose for taking one? No, Sam, just no. We’re heading into wildling territory, who could deliver her baby (Sam offers he’s read about it), how can we travel with her? No, is Jon’s final answer. I don’t know who looks sadder – Sam hearing it or Jon saying it.

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The camera is out of focus as we come upon the hungry, weary and parched remaining members of Dany’s khalasar as they wait for their riders to return. Jorah notices a horse coming back and alerts Dany, but there is trouble. The horse has no rider. Jorah approaches the fly-swarmed saddlebag and somewhere Brad Pitt is crying “what’s in the box?” Jorah channels his inter Morgan Freeman and checks it out, finding one of the rider’s heads in the bag and his cut off braid. It is a message from some rival Khal that they do not accept a woman leader.

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The dead rider was Rakharo, Dany’s most trusted and reliable man, and his girl Irri is devastated. She cries that he was not given a proper burial. Dany promises to see to that (a fire) and to avenge his death.

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Theon Greyjoy is sailing back to Pyke for the first time since he was taken ward by the Starks following his father’s failed rebellion. He’s expecting a hero’s welcome befitting the last male Greyjoy’s triumphant return home. He’s cocky and dismissive of the girl on the boat who tries to show interest in him and treats her horribly. At least a whore would be paid for having to put up with this.

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Speaking of whores, HBO decides to remind us this show is on a premium channel by going from one sex scene to another. We’re at Littlefinger’s brothel and while he’s busy surreptitiously watching the customers get serviced (in case we were unclear if he was depraved or not), we hear an unhappy customer. Seems one of the girls just wouldn’t stop crying. He quickly cleans up another of the girls, sends her off to make sure the customer always gets what they want, then goes to find out what the problem is.

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In a very slow, very drawn out scene we learn it was Ros who was crying because she was still upset over the baby butchery she witnessed. We expect kindness or understanding, but what we hear is chilling to the bone. Lord Baelish makes sure she understands that this one time he’ll make an exception but should she ever let her personal feelings get in the way of business he will find a way to make his money off of her, even if it involves letting some rich man use her as his very own sadism-soaked plaything. Capice?

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Tyrion summoned Commander Slynt to come for some wine, food and conversation and a major ass whooping. After dinner, he questions the commander about his role in the surprise capture of Ned Stark. And Tyrion lets it be known that he is not at all amused that innocent children and babies were murdered while he’s Hand of the King. He tells Slynt that given that he betrayed the last hand of the King, it would not make a lot of sense to keep him on the payroll. He’ll be taking the black and living the rest of his days on the Wall. And before he leaves, he should pass his key card over to his replacement, Bronn. The City Watch has a new commander.

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Bronn and Tyrion celebrate the changing of the guard and then Tyrion has a moment of reflection. He asks Bronn if he would kill an infant child if ordered to do so, without question. No, Bronn replies, not without question. “I’d ask how much.” Tyrion looks crestfallen; perhaps he just now realized that the last “good” man in the Capital was the late Lord Stark.

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Back on the kingsroad with Arya and the rest of Yoren’s recruits, two of the boys (Lommy and Hot Pie) are arguing about their relative toughness. Gendry is the cool voice of reason and the one they all look to. When she has him alone, Arya starts asking questions about why the Gold Cloaks would be looking for him. He tells her how the last two Hands of the King had each paid him a visit and now each of them is dead. She presses him for details and he said they asked him questions about his mother. But far as he knows, there’s nothing special about her. He doesn’t know who is father is.

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Next it’s Gendry turn to ask questions. Why did “Arry” think the gold cloaks were there for “him?” Was it because you killed someone or because you’re a girl? I’m not a girl, Arya squeaks like a girl. Gendry did not just fall off the turnip truck. She can fool some people with a bad DIY haircut and unisex outfit, but not him. She asks him not to tell Lommy or Hot Pie and he agrees. She tells him the whole truth and he’s taken aback. She’s a highborn Lady not some guttersnipe. He starts sputtering “my lady’s” and apologizes for suggesting she whip out her dick to prove she was a dude and he gets rather funny and playful for someone who is on the City Watch’a Most Wanted list.

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Hail the triumphant return of Lord Greyjoy, heir to the Iron Islands, the long-lost but never forgotten…what? Where’s the band, the parade, the mayor with a key to the city? Theon is brought ashore to be greeted by … no one. He’s lucky to find a surly, tough-talking woman who offers to take him to Pyke where he’s sure the surprise welcome home party is all set up. He immediately starts putting the moves on the girl in what he must think passes for sexy banter but which comes across as creepy lecher talk.

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As they ride on tandem horseback he’s whispering in her ear and feeling her up while boasting about his prowess and great future and he makes some indecent proposals to her. She is equal to the task of dealing with him, though we do wonder why she’s bothering and doesn’t just push him off the horse.

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Theon enters the room to greet his father after nine long years apart and we quickly discover that creepiness is hereditary. The man shows no love for his son, no joy at his return. He couldn’t even spring for one helium “Welcome Home” balloon. Instead, he mocks the boy for adapting to the life he was forced into. He ridicules his clothes, his manner, even his right of inheritance. This is not going at all the way Theon envisioned.

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Theon shares with his father a letter from Robb Stark asking for Balon’s ships to join the army fighting the Lannisters, but Balon mocks his son as a hired raven doing Robb’s bidding. When Theon explains that he will lead the Greyjoy fleet and fight to help his father reclaim the title King of the Iron Islands, Balon thinks him preposterous. He’s no warrior, he’s not leading anyone or anything. Theon wants what is his as Balon’s heir, but Balon does not think of Theon as a Greyjoy anymore. And he has an heir, thank you very much. Theon, I think you may have already met…your sister. Yes, the lady he groped and talked dirty to was none other than his big sister all grown up. Everyone outside of the Lannister twins just got a case of the heebie jeebies.

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Theon looks like he’s about to vomit and his sister, Yara, looks like she’s greatly enjoying tormenting him. She and her father let Theon know that they’re pretty enlightened on the Iron Islands and a woman can lead an army as well as (if not better than) a man, especially one in a skirt (guess they haven’t seen Braveheart). Yara will be leading any attack, not this soft, spoiled boy that has been raised in the cushy Winterfell castle. Balon sets fire to the note from Robb Stark. When Balon tells Theon that he won’t deal with Robb, instead he’ll take what’s his by force, Theon warns him about going up against the Lannisters. To which Balon replies, who said anything about the Lannisters. Scratch diplomacy and deal making off of Theon’s list of future occupations.

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Davos (joined by his son Matthos) is meeting with a sellsail (pirate) from Lys named Salladhor Saan about backing Stannis in his quest for the Holy Grail Iron Throne. Salladhor, an old friend of Davos, is a smart business man and likes what he hears from Davos about why he should back Stannis over his brother or Joffrey, each of whom have larger armies. Davos says Stannis is the most honorable and loyal and, oddly, those traits seem to matter to the pirate. So Salladhor will sail with his 30 ships to plunder King’s Landing along with Stannis, if he gets the queen as part of the spoils of victory. Davos is as honorable as he says Stannis is and refuses to promise more than he can deliver.

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Davos and his son Matthos have an interesting conversation about religion. Davos sees things differently than his father. He is a true believer in the one true god that Melisandre was praying to, the Lord of Light. While Davos believes in his friend Stannis and his claim to the throne, he does not share the belief that his god is the true one. Matthos thinks that if his father would let him teach him to read, the holy books could persuade Davos better than he can. Davos is a nonbeliever and in one of the most touching exchanges ever he tells his son that in his experience prayer isn’t the answer. People all the time pray for this and that and for what? Those prayers are never answered. He said he never once prayed to come home, all those years he was away from home. “But I did,” replies Matthos.

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Time for some sibling-on-sibling verbal attacks brought to us courtesy of the bickering Lannisters. Cersei is angry with Tyrion for firing Janos Slynt and Tyrion is angry with Cersei for adding baby killer to her list of sins. Only…looks like even the ice queen isn’t that cold – it was Joffrey who ordered the slaughter. They go back and forth. She says Tyrion doesn’t know what it means to rule. He says Cersei has done about as poor a job of it as could be done. He then jabs her with an inappropriate comment about her dalliances with their brother and Cersei goes for the jugular. Her favorite discussion stopper – how Tyrion’s birth cost her mother her life. Really no comeback for that one so she storms off but not really victorious.

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War planning with Stannis and his advisors – trusty sidekick Davos, loyal true believer Matthos and spiritual guru Melisandre. When the two Seaworths are asked to leave, Melisandre stops Matthos to tell him that the god of light shines through him and that fire is the purest form of death. Some people just say “see you later.” Stannis is concerned. Without the 100,000 men Renly has assembled, he’s not sure he’ll prevail. Melisandre says she knows the path to victory and it comes through giving himself over to The Lord of Light. But, she adds, more is needed than just reciting the words of a prayer or burning some statues. If you get her drift. And if you don’t, Melisandre drops her dress, comes to Stannis and lets him mount her like the stallion he is. She promises him what his loony wife has failed to deliver – a son, an heir. I hope they clean up that table before the next meeting.

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North of the Wall, Jon has found a new way to get himself in trouble. He followed as Craster takes a baby out into the wilderness and lays it down. Something human-like but not quite comes and takes the baby away, answering the not rhetorical “what happens to the male babies” question. Jon is not quiet and discreet like a direwolf in the night so Craster finds him and knocks him out and we all fade to black.

Favorite lines:

Varys: Ned was a man of honor
Tyrion: And I am not.

Tyrion: You’ve perfected the art of tearing up papers.

Varys: Trouble with the wildlings?
Littlefinger: That’s why they’re called wildlings.

Varys: How do you kill a dead man?
Tyrion: Apparently you burn him.

Sam: I wish I grew up on a farm.

Tyrion: I’m not questioning your honor, Lord Janos. I’m denying its existence.

Gendry: You shouldn’t insult anyone bigger than you.
Arya: Then I’d never get to insult anyone.

Balon Greyjoy: No man gives me a crown. I pay the iron price.

Salladhor Saan: The one true god is between a woman’s legs.

Cersei: You want to be Hand of the King? You want to rule? This is what ruling is; lying on a bed of weeds, ripping them out by the root, one by one, before they strangle you in your sleep!
Tyrion: I’m no king, but I think there’s more to ruling than that.
Cersei: I don’t care what you think! You’ve never taken it seriously; you haven’t, Jaime hasn’t! It’s all fallen on me.
Tyrion: As has Jaime repeatedly, according to Stannis Baratheon.
Cersei: You’re funny. You’ve always been funny, but none of your jokes will ever match the first one, will they? Do you remember, back when you ripped my mother open on your way out of her and she bled to death?
Tyrion: She was my mother too.
Cersei: Mother gone, for the sake of you. There’s no bigger joke in the world than that.

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Recap of Season 2, Episode 3: “What Is Dead May Never Die”

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We open in the aftermath of Jon’s late night snooping.  Craster did not kill him, but he is furious at having one of the Night’s Watch being where they weren’t supposed to be and seeing what is none of their business.  Jon tells Jeor Mormont what he saw – Craster abandoned his newborn son and let some creature take it.  But Jon is about to learn something even more shocking than that – Mormont knew about the “offerings” and did nothing. Craster’s Keep is the last thing standing between them (the realm) and the dangers beyond the Wall.  “We need men like Craster.”  So they look the other way.  As for the strange creature that Jon saw, Mormont ominously tells him that’s likely not the last time he sees such a thing.

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Outside, the brothers are readying to leave when Sam spots Gilly.  Before they leave, he wants to give her something.  It’s his mother’s thimble, the only thing he has from her.  It reminds him of how he used to read to her while she sewed, at least until his beast of a father put a stop to that.  But it’s not a gift, it’s for Gilly to keep until he sees her again. Awwww.

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It’s the first Hodor of the day!  We are walking through Winterfell looking through someone’s eyes, and as that someone is low to the ground and panting we can assume its Bran’s direwolf Summer (if you thought I was going to say Tyrion in a brothel, you are so Season 1).  Summer accompanies Maester Luwin to wake Bran who is dreaming he is Summer accompanying Maester Luwin to wake himself and it all gets confusing as Bran looks at himself sleeping then wakes up.

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Bran tells Luwin his dreams.  Every night the same thing.  He’s running through the godswood; it feels so real.  He remembers the stories Old Nan used to tell him about magical people who could live inside of certain creatures like stags, birds, even wolves. But Luwin dismisses those as just silly fairy tales. Maybe there were people like that once, a long time ago, but they are gone now, like the dragons (um, Luwin, psst, about those dragons…).  They’re just dreams, he assures Bran. But Bran says his dreams are different, his come true.  Luwin shows Bran a special chain he has from his past studies. It’s made of Valyrian Steel and it represents that he has studied magic (I’ll just bet he was a Hufflepuff).  He said that all the magic things, if they existed, no longer do.  Dragons, giants, the children of the forest – all long gone.

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We’re in a new location, Renly’s encampment. “King” Renly (get in line there, fella) is enjoying an afternoon of combat, the lovely Margaery Tyrell at his side.  She is cheering on her brother, Lord of Flowers, Loras Tyrell, but he is forced to yield in this combat. And who defeated Ser Loras?  A girl!  Gasp!  Well, actually a rather imposing wall of a woman named Brienne of Tarth.  She asks for the honor of serving the king as one of his kingsguard and she looks pretty formidable so Renly says sure, just don’t hurt me.

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Catelyn Stark comes before Renly on behalf of her son, Lord of Winterfell and King of the North (just so we have that straight, those titles are nonnegotiable).  He introduces her to his wife, of the house Tyrell, and Margaery is gracious, sending condolences for Catelyn’s loss.  So all the pleasantries are done with.  Renly promises to avenge Ned’s death when he takes King’s Landing and chops off King Joffrey’s head.  Catelyn gets some attitude from newly hired Brienne the enforcer (call him My Grace and kneel before him, Brienne tells her) and newly defeated Loras (why is Robb hiding behind his mom’s skirt, he sneers) and Renly nicely diffuses the situation by taking Catelyn for a walk.

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We see what a popular king Renly is as he confirms he can amass 100,000 followers, but Catelyn is not convinced.  She derides him and his men for playing at war while her eldest is risking his life in real battle.  Renly is already used to only being told what he wants to hear, so he suggests Brienne take Catelyn back to her tent. He says, he’s going to pray for a bit.

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Along the way to Catelyn’s tent, the ladies chat and we learn of Brienne’s devotion to her king and her humility (I’m no Capital “L” Lady).

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On Pyke, Theon is questioning Yara why she didn’t tell him earlier that she was his sister and she said she wanted to see what kind of a man he was.  Well, some questions are better left unanswered.  Their father comes in to discuss their plans for war.  With Robb fighting in the south, the north is unprotected.  The Greyjoy fleet can pillage up and down the northern coast of Westeros.  They will spread out across the green lands, securing the Neck and taking everything above it.  Winterfell may fight them for some time, but the rest should be easy pickings.  He instructs Yara to take 30 longships to take Deepwood Motte.  Meanwhile Theon gets a single ship to raid fishing villages on the stoney shore.  As kids know, this means Balon loves Yara at least 30 times more than he loves Theon.

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Theon tries to reason with his father.  If he would just pledge fealty to Robb Stark he would be given Casterly Rock.  That is not the way things are done on the Iron Islands, his father growls.  We don’t ask for things we take them. What are our words?  “We do not sow.”  Remember that.  We take what is ours.  Balon again tells Theon what a disappointment he is – how Stark-ified he has become these past nine years.  This really strikes a nerve with Theon.  His father gave him to the Starks after bending his knee to Robert Baratheon when the Greyjoy Rebellion was put down.  Why is Theon being blamed for living with the Starks all these years and adapting to his life there?  His sister tells him he better choose fast which family he is part of.

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Tyrion tries to convince Shae to take a job in the kitchen so she’ll blend in better and no one (and by no one he means his father) will know who she really is.  But Shae doesn’t care about Tyrion’s concerns, she’s not scrubbing pots.  Hey, I’m all for any scene involving Tyrion but I can’t pretend much happened in this one.

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And you thought meals with your future in laws were awkward?  Sansa is having dinner with Cersei, Myrcella and Tommen and her future sister-in-law asks her about marrying Joffrey and at first Sansa doesn’t respond because she’s too busy trying to go to her happy place (season one, episode one).  Cersei snaps at her to respond when spoken to, and Sansa does a masterful job parroting a perfect response.  Tommen asks if Joffrey is going to kill Sansa’s brother and Cersei says it might happen.  Is that what you want, she asks (expecting a gleeful yes, probably), but Tommen sweetly says, No.  So as awful as things are for Sansa, at least she’s not completely surrounded by sadistic monsters who want to see her suffer more.

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Sansa is back in her room when she hears a knock on the door.  She’s probably dreading what more could happen when instead it’s a foreigner announcing she’s her new handmaiden.  So Shae won the fight with Tyrion, she doesn’t have to work in the kitchen (though I don’t see how emptying chamber pots is an improvement).  Shae is the world’s worst handmaiden.  She just stands there, borderline belligerently, and does not at all hide that she hates this job and has no clue how to serve.  Exasperated that she can’t even have a handmaiden who just wants to make her life more comfortable, Sansa finally comes up with something she can do.  Just brush my hair.

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Next is a truly delicious trifecta of scenes that demonstrate the cunning of Tyrion and how this Hand of the King is better able to play the game than his predecessors.  Tyrion meets in private with each of the three members of the Small Council whose intentions and loyalty are an open question – Pycelle, Varys and Littlefinger.  He tells them the same story – in the interest of forging stronger bonds with their allies, he has arranged for his niece Myrcella to be married off to a prominent house.

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Pycelle is told that the plan is to send her to Dorne to marry into the House Martell. Pycelle is explicitly told NOT to tell the queen of this plan.  He swears himself to secrecy.

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Next, Tyrion tells Varys the plan is to marry Myrcella off to Theon Greyjoy.  Balon Greyjoy hates the Starks and can destroy their northern army from within.  Varys is dubious at best about the plan but he also swears not to tell the queen about it.

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Finally, it’s Littlefinger’s turn.  The tale Tyrion spins for him is as preposterous as it is intriguing.  Myrcella is to be wed to Lord Robin Arryn of the Vale (assuming he’s willing to take another nipple besides his mummy’s).  Despite the fact that Lysa tried to kill Tyrion, in the interest of peace he’ll let bygones by bygones.  And Littlefinger of course thinks his role in this diplomacy is significant.  Tyrion goes along, yes I need you to broker the deal.  Littlefinger is so unctuous and calculating, what’s in it for me, he purrs. Tyrion quickly comes up with something Littlefinger covets – a noble house.  He can have Harrenhall. Littlefinger demurs at first.  Harrenhall is cursed.  But the thought of having any storied piece of property that oozes nobility is catnip to the self made man.  He’s onboard and of course will not tell the queen.  Now all Tyrion has to do is sit back and see which of the three breaks their vow of silence.

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When Renly left Catelyn he said he was off to pray.  He really has quite the religious fervor.  He and his brother-in-law Loras Tyrell are having a great time making out until Loras brings up how Renly hurt his feelings by promoting Brienne to the kingsguard after defeating him in their battle.  Renly tries to apologize and salvage the evening, but Loras is not in the mood.  People are starting to talk and his father did not approve the marriage of Renly to his daughter for her to still be a virgin this long into their marriage.  Renly needs to do his duty, as yucky as it may be.

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Margaery comes in and she tries her best to seduce her husband, but he is not into it. Showing remarkable practicality, she suggests either bringing her brother in or turning around so Renly can pretend she’s him.  Renly pretends he doesn’t know what she means but she says, save it.  She didn’t marry him for love any more than he married her for sex. He needs to put a baby in her belly to solidify his position and silence his critics and whatever he needs to accomplish that, she’ll make sure he has.  He is king after all.  And as we learned, the king gets what he wants – unless it’s to live openly gay, unfortunately.

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It didn’t take long to find out who in the small council is a rat as Cersei storms into Tyrion’s room with smoke coming out her ears.  She is furious that he would suggest marrying her daughter off to … drumroll please … The Martels!  Okay, so it was Pycelle who broke his vow.  Hmm, I think we all expected it would have been Littlefinger.  Tyrion has to take this piece of info and tuck it away for later use.  Now he still has to deal with the Mama Bear firestorm.  He tries to convince Cersei that this is for the best, she wants her daughter safe, etc.  But she is inconsolable at the thought of losing her daughter and pushes him over before storming off.

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No matter what you might think of Theon, it’s hard not to feel sorry for him in this scene. He feels allegiance to the Starks, who treated him like part of the family.  Yet he also wants his father’s love and respect and to live up to his father’s expectations.  He knows that the best plan would be to ally with Robb, yet that is not the Greyjoy way and will not be acceptable to his father.  What to do?  He writes out a letter to Robb to tell him everything, and weighs what to do.  Ultimately, he sets the letter aflame, his decision and allegiance chosen.

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Having chosen to fight for the Greyjoys, Theon is reborn figuratively and literally in the water of the Iron Islands.  The “Drowned Priest” conducts the ceremony to baptize Theon in the Drowned God, the god of the Iron Islands.  The title of this episode comes from part of the words that are spoken at the religious rite.  Followers of the Drowned God believe he brought flame from the sea and that it is their duty to kill their enemy and take what they can pillage and plunder.  They believe in paying the “iron price” (taking things by force) rather than the “gold price” (buying it or being given it).

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Word quickly spread about Myrcella being sent off to Dorne and Littlefinger charges into Tyrion’s office, not at all happy about being part of Tyrion’s “little deception.”  Littlefinger tells him to leave him out of the next one, but Tyrion quickly comes up with an offer Petyr Baelish can’t refuse.  Go to Catelyn Stark and negotiate to get Jaime returned.

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Bronn interrupts their discussion with news he’s found the old stoat and he has company. They all burst in on Pycelle as he is entertaining being entertained by a young lady. Tyrion tells him he knows he’s a rat and wants to know just how long he’s been snooping for his sister.  Pycelle starts blathering about how everything he does he does for the Lannisters but Tyrion is not buying what he’s selling.  He has Bronn there for muscle and wants to make some statement.

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Tryion suggests cutting off his manhood and feeding to the goats but there are no goats. So Tyrion says he doesn’t like Pycelle’s beard. Off it goes.  Pycelle is carted away to the black cell and will not get the chance to aid and abet anything befalling the current Hand.  Tyrion pays the young girl, handsomely, for her trouble.

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Varys and Tyrion have an interesting conversation. There may be a slight thawing in their chilly relationship. Varys passed the first test and Tyrion has proved himself a worthy opponent.  He is not another Ned Stark.

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The next scene is a really beautifully shot scene, just Arya and Yoren among a sea of sleeping future recruits. Arya’s sleep is troubled and she asks Yoren how he sleeps, having seen what’s he’s seen.  He tells her he made sure she didn’t see what happened to her father, but she said she saw enough and can’t get any of it out of her mind. Yoren knows how she feels.  He tells her how when he was a little older than she, he witnessed his brother die.  He never could get the man who killed him out of his head. He became so obsessed he would say the man’s name every night, like a prayer.  Willem, Willem.  Then one day, Willem rolls into town. “I buried an ax so deep into his skull, they had to bury him with it.”

Suddenly they hear a disturbance from outside.  The Gold Cloaks are back! Yoren tells Arya and Gendry to stay out of trouble and if things go bad, head north.  In the commotion, Lommy picks up Gendry’s bull’s head helm.

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Yoren meets the leader of the City Watch guards and refuses to drop his sword.  So one of the men hits him with a crossbow. Yoren pulls out the arrow and fights valiantly, but in the end there are just too many Gold Cloaks and he is killed.  All hell breaks loose and the campsite is on fire and people are running in every direction.  Arya hears the man with the foreign accent call to her.  Jaqen H’ghar is trapped with his fellow convicts in a cage that’s about to be incinerated.  She comes over and helps free them.  The guards round up the recruits and the plan is to take them all to Harrenhal.

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Lommy is wounded, he has an arrow in his leg.  He makes the mistake of mouthing off to one of the Gold Cloaks who kills him rather than listening to him any more.  But Lonny’s death gives Gendry cover.  They were there to get the boy who owned the bull’s head helm, say the guards.  Looking at the helm which Lommy took from Gendry, Arya cleverly says, you’ve got your man!

Favorite lines:

Loras Tyrell: Has your son marched against Tywin Lannister yet?
Catelyn Stark: I do not sit on my son’s war councils, and if I did, I would not share his strategies with you.
Loras: If Robb Stark wants a pact with us, he should come himself, not hide behind his mother’s skirts!
Catelyn: My son is fighting a war, not playing at one!

Drowned Priest: Let Theon your servant be born again from the sea, as you were. Bless him with salt, bless him with stone, bless him with steel.
Theon Greyjoy: What is dead may never die.
Drowned Priest: What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger.

Varys: Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick, a shadow on the wall, and a very small man can cast a very large shadow.

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Recap of Season 2, Episode 4: “Garden of Bones”

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Two new opening sequence locations for this episode.  The first is Harrenhal, where the Gold Cloaks said they were taking the survivors of their raid on the Night’s Watch caravan.   The other is Qarth, in the eastern realm called Essos (across the sea from Westeros).

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Two knights are discussing who are the best swordsmen in the realm.  The Mountain is mentioned as is Jaime Lannister.  They also mention Loras Tyrell, who, though prettier than the queen, is better with a sword than either of the other two.  Then one knight makes a crude joke, “How good could he been.  He’s been stabbing Renly Baratheon for years and Renly ain’t dead.”  So gossip knows no boundaries.

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The horses start getting spooked and the knights hear something off in the distance and everyone’s getting a bit creeped out.  Suddenly, a direwolf comes charging after one of the knights and we see teeth bared and hear screams.  We then see Robb Stark and his mean and hear them chant “King of the North!”

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The next day we see the aftermath of the battle.  Dead bodies strewn around, smoldering flames and the anguished cries of the injured.  Roose Bolton is updating Robb on the battle numbers – five Lannisters dead for everyone of theirs.  There are too many prisoners.  If they are all housed, they will use up all the provisions.  But Robb says they will not be executing their prisoners.  Bolton hopes some of the officers of the Lannister army may be useful in providing information of Tywin’s strategy, though Robb doubts they’ll have much information.  Bolton says he’ll learn soon enough.  In his family, they have a saying, “A naked man has few secrets.  A flayed man none.”  Remind me not to go skinny dipping with the Boltons.  Robb reminds Bolton that his father outlawed flaying in the north, to which Bolton replies, “We’re not in the north.”  Robb reiterates, we are not torturing anyone and Bolton thinks Robb is naive and not doing what’s best for his cause.

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The conversation is brought to a close when Robb hears a soldier crying out in pain and fear.  Florence Nightingale appears on the battlefield to tend the wounded and she’s trying to amputate the fellow’s foot, but he’s become awfully fond of it.  Robb comes over and helps her control the man while she slowly saws off the foot.  Robb has never been more turned on.  Her name is Talisa and Robb is immediately smitten. Talisa blames Robb for all the bloodshed.  She’s anti-war but rather than writing protest songs, she volunteers to take care of the wounded regardless of which side they are fighting on.  She challenges Robb and points out that he hasn’t thought much beyond avenging his father’s death.  Then off she goes into after making Robb feel completely terrible about himself.  And he already misses her.

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Joffrey has his sights set on Sansa, literally.  He is aiming a freakin’ crossbow right at her and telling her she’s there to answer for her brother’s latest treason, the raid from last night that killed Stafford Lannister and thousands of Lannister soldiers.  “Killing you would send your brother a message, but my mother insists on keeping you alive.”  When Cersei is more reasonable that someone, you know that person has a real problem.  He puts down the weapon and tells her to stand as he thinks of another way to send a message to Robb.

meryn trant sansa stark

Joffrey summons Meryn Trant, one of the members of his Kingsguard, and tells him to spare her face, but beat the rest of her up.  Who is worse, the one ordering the beating or the one who obeys without question?   Discuss.  In front of a gallery of onlookers, Joffrey tells Meryn to take off her clothes then tells him to do his worst.  No one does anything to stop him.  He pulls out his sword and is about to bring it down on her when we hear, “What is the meaning of this?”  It is Tyrion.

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Tyrion is furious.  “What kind of knight beats a helpless girl?”  He insults Meryn and tells Bronn to take care of him if he gets out of line.  He is appalled at Joffrey treating his future wife like that.  He orders someone cover the girl (the Hound drapes a cloak over her) and calls his nephew a halfwit.  He reminds Joffrey that the Mad King did as he liked, and look where that got him.  When Meryn tells him not to threaten the king, he says he’s not threatening the king but educating  his nephew.  He helps Sansa off and speaks to her softly, apologizing for Joffrey’s horrible behavior.  He asks her if she wants an end to the engagement, but she can’t do anything other than mimic what she’s been told to say.  Tyrion is strangely impressed, “Lady Stark, you may survive us yet.”

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Bronn thinks Joffrey’s problem is sexual frustration and makes a joke about the king being backed up from balls to brains.  Tyrion and Bronn discuss that Joffrey has nothing to do with himself all day besides “pull the wings off of flies” and maybe a sexual release would do him some good.

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So Tyrion sends Joffrey a name day present, two of the best whores in King’s Landing (Ros and another girl, the one who had been with Pycelle last episode).  The girls are going at it and it all is playful fun, until Joffrey lets his sadistic imagination run wild and we go from fun to slightly uncomfortable to downright horrifying as he orders Ros to beat the other girl.  And it’s so slow and tortured as you see the evil wheels turning and know what Joffrey has planned.  If this present is from his uncle, the same one who just embarrassed him in front of everyone, then he knows just what to do with this present.  And afterwards, Ros is to take the girl to Tyrion’s chambers so he knows exactly what happened.

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Littlefinger is at Renly’s encampment and the two former Small Council members could not hate each other more.  Littlefinger begins by saying there are many who believe Ned Stark erred by not supporting Renly’s claim to the throne.  Renly thinks Littlefinger is there hedging his bets and protecting himself should Renly be successful in attacking King’s Landing.  Littlefinger says that Renly could be met by opposition or by open gates when he arrives.

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That night he engages the queen in conversation and immediately hones in on the fact that she does not share her husband’s bed.  The rumors about Renly are well known so it is obvious that Littlefinger is just toying with her.  She is not amused and lets him know that he is not getting the best of this conversation.

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We are in the middle of the red waste and we see a lone rider.  He’s returning to Dany and what remains of her khalasar.  He tells her his new horse was a present from the Thirteen, the elders of Qarth, a city three days ride from here, on the sea.  They would be happy to welcome the mother of dragons. Dany asks Jorah what he knows about Qarth.  He says that the desert around their city is known as the garden of bones and every time they shut their gate on a traveler, the garden grows.  Well, that’s not nearly as nice as silver bells and cockleshells, but it’s the closest piece of civilization, so that’s where they’re going.

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Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry find themselves in chains brought with the rest to Harrenhal in the heart of the Riverlands.  The stone on the outside of the castle (the largest in all of Westeros) appears melted and they wonder what could melt stone.  Arya suggests “dragon fire.”  Perhaps this is why it is thought to be cursed.  They are kept in chains and hear horror stories about what is going on there, with someone killed every day.

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At night, Arya recites the names of the people who she wants vengeance against: Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, and The Hound.

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Littlefinger comes into Catelyn Stark’s tent and it looks like she could kill him right there.  She is so angry with him for betraying Ned.  Littlefinger sputters, he never betrayed him, he asked him to serve as protector of the realm, but Ned wouldn’t listen.  She says Littlefinger betrayed her and Ned and orders him out, but he won’t go.  He’s loved her since he was a boy.  “It seems like fate has given us this chance,” he says.  She pulls a dagger on him, is he out of his mind?  Her husband just died, in large part because of Littlefinger’s actions, and now he wants to pick up where they never left off because, as he forgets, she never was into him!

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You got to give it to him, he has balls.  Instead of leaving, he asks her if she wants to see her girls again.  He lies and tells her that both girls are healthy and safe at King’s Landing.  He says she has to trade Jaime for the girls.  She says Robb will never agree and Littlefinger says that’s why I brought this deal to you.  Robb is not a mother.  He also has something for her, a token of Tyrion Lannister’s goodwill – Ned’s remains, for proper burial.

the tickler 204

Back at Harrenhal, we realize this is an outpost of the Lannister army (as the soldiers are wearing red) and we see that our old friend The Mountain is the one who picks who will be tortured and killed.  Way to fit the man with the job!  A torturer nicknamed The Tickler straps the unlucky victim to a chair, questions them about the location of “the brotherhood,” and then when he fails to get a satisfactory answer, he straps a bucket containing a ravenous rat on the man’s chest, heats one end of the bucket and waits for the rat to run away from the heat and burrow itself into the man’s chest.  Even Hannibal Lecter, when hearing of this, went, ewww.

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Catelyn is accompanying Renly to meet with his brother Stannis in the Riverlands.  We have Renly, Ser Loras and Lady Brienne on one side and Stannis, Ser Davos and Melisandre the red priestess on the other.  The men compare sigils (Stannis added fire for the Lord of Light) and try and resolve how there can be two men who call themselves king, but only one true king.  Catelyn tries to play the mom card and get the two bickering brothers to see eye-to-eye, but that hasn’t worked since before Cain and Abel, so there’s little chance of these two settling their dispute.  Renly says no one wants you for their king, Stannis says you have till dawn to accept my right to the throne, and that’s where it’s left.

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Dany and her “horde” are met outside the gates of Qarth by the thirteen and some of their guards.  Dany was expecting a warm welcome, but that is not what she receives.   The thirteen are the protectors of Qarth, “the greatest city that ever was or will be.”  They want to see the dragons before they do anything else.  But Dany knows that the baby dragons are not an imposing sight, so she demurs.  No dragons, no entry.  The thirteen turn and head back inside, but Dany yells at them, threatening what she and her dragons will do to them someday.  It’s particularly ballsy as she’s already admitted that without their help, she and her people will all die outside the gates.

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One of the thirteen, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, is intrigued by Dany. He invokes “soumai” and I know I love the little  minced pork dumplings, but I didn’t realize that they’re popular enough in Qarth to override the rules and Dany gets to bring her horde into the city gates.    As the gates part, you expect to see the chocolate streams and candy gardens or at least a yellow brick road, but instead its a generic Mid-eastern meets Mediterranean city.

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Another day in Harrenhal, another poor guy’s head on a spike.  Arya and her friends are waiting for the next victim, and the Mountain selects Gendry!  Arya is panicked, but there’s really nothing for her to do.  Gendry is strapped in, questioning begins, and we’re just at the hungry rat part when who should show up to save the day but Tywin Lannister.  Tywin, on a white horse, stops the ridiculous waste of human life.  Let’s put these people to work, not murder them.  Tywin asks Gendry if he has a trade and learns that Gendry was a smith.  And they were about to kill him, the fools.  Not only were they stupid about that, they didn’t even realize that Arya is a girl.  But Tywin spotted that right away.  He  finds her smarter than most of the Lannister army working there, and has them bring her to him as his new cup bearer.

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Tyrion opens the door and it’s his cousin Lancel Lannister delivering an order from the queen that Maester Pycelle be freed immediately.  Tyrion will do as he’s ordered, but first he’s going to have some fun at his cousin’s expense.  He notes how Lancel is with the queen at all hours and how he seems to be wearing her favorite scented oils.  He then makes his accusation clear about their special relationship. He asks Lancel how Joffrey would feel knowing that he’s sleeping with his mother.  Tyrion will trade his discretion for information.  If Lancel reports back to him on what Cersei is up to, he will keep quiet about their dalliance.

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Davos comes to talk to Stannis on the docks.  Davos wears the knucklebones Stannis hacked off years ago and Stannis asks him about them.  He jokes about his good luck since then, “it’s four less fingernails to clean.”  “Fewer,” corrects Stannis and for a moment I take his side against Renly.  Davos wears the bones to remind himself where he comes from and how far he’s come.  It also reminds him of Stannis’ justice.  Davos was a hero and a smuggler, and the good did not wash away the bad nor the bad the good.  So he paid for his crimes with his finger tips, and was rewarded for the good with his current position.  Stannis asks Davos to smuggle Melisandre, though we don’t know where yet.  Davos is reluctant, this isn’t clean, but he is loyal and will do what Stannis asks.

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Davos brings Melisandre ashore.  As they sailed, they had philosophical discussions about good and evil, with Melisandre having no trouble describing herself as good, while Davos more honestly views himself as a mixture of good and bad.  When they come ashore, Melisandre talks seductively to the married Davos.  She bares her naked body and Stannis is shocked to see that she is pregnant.  He delivers her baby and it is shadowy and sinister and not at all what he expected.  She carries some major dark magic.

Favorite lines:

Roose Bolton: The high road’s very pretty, but you’ll have a hard time marching your army down it.

Talisa: You’re fighting to overthrow a king, and yet you have no plan for what comes after?
Robb: First we have to win the war.

Bronn (to Meryn): Careful now, we don’t want to get blood all over your pretty white cloak.

Joffrey: You can’t talk to me like that.  The king can do as he likes!
Tyrion: The mad king did as he like.  Has your uncle Jaime ever told you what happened to him?

Tyrion:  Bronn, the next time Ser Meryn speaks, kill him.  (To Meryn) That was a threat.  See the difference?

Littlefinger: If war were artithmetic, the mathematicians would rule the world.

Renly Baratheon: Whose banner is that?
Stannis Baratheon:  My own.
Renly:  I suppose if we use the same one, the battle will be terribly confusing.

Melisandre:  You should kneel before your brother.  He’s the Lord’s chosen.  Born amidst salt and smoke.
Renly: “Born amidst salt and smoke.”  Is he a ham?

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